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Utah business owner indicted for wildlife trafficking

Posted at 8:09 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 22:09:48-05

The Department of Justice charged a Utah man and his company in an indictment Wednesday that claims he participated in illegal wildlife trafficking.

The indictment alleges Jean-Michael Arrigona (58) imported wildlife into the United States without declaring it to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or customs authorities.

Arrigona's company, "Natur, Inc." based in Midvale, sells art, taxidermy mounts, bones and skeletons. The indictment claims that Arrigona sold the illegal wildlife in his store and on his website.

Officials believe that between December 2015 and September 2020, Arrigona imported about 460 wildlife items without declaring them. None of the items were alive when he imported them.

The wildlife primarily came from Indonesia and included bats, lizards, turtles, insects, starfish and mollusks.

If proven guilty, Arrigona would have violated The Lacey Act and The Endangered Species Act, which prohibits people from selling illegal wildlife and requires importers to declare wildlife when brought into the country.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement based in Redmond, Washington, conducted the investigation as part of Operation Global Reach, which focused on wildlife trafficking from Indonesia to the United States.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.