Feds say Arlington wildlife importer is a fugitive

Dallas (AP) – Federal officials who issued an arrest warrant for
an Arlington wildlife importer say the man is now a fugitive.

An arrest warrant was issued Feb. 10 for Jasen B. Shaw, 37, who
is wanted for violation of the Lacey Act, the main federal weapon
against illegal hunting and criminal trade in wildlife, the Dallas
Morning News reported Tuesday. The arrest warrant was previously
kept confidential.

In December, more than 26,000 animals were seized from Shaw’s
company, the pet and wildlife wholesaler U.S. Global Exotics. Many
of the animals, including sloths, hamsters and snakes, were dead or
dying. The company was later shut down.

“We did file a criminal complaint,” said Nicholas Chavez, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service special agent in charge of law
enforcement for the Southwest region.

Shaw also is under federal investigation on allegations of
smuggling, conspiracy and aiding and abetting.

Chavez said investigators believe Shaw fled to his native New
Zealand to avoid prosecution.

Shaw’s attorney, Lance Evans of Fort Worth, told The Associated
Press on Tuesday that Shaw and his wife returned to New Zealand in
January, prior to the criminal complaint being filed. He says they
moved back after Shaw was forced to close his business.

“We are continuing our investigation into the government’s
accusations that Mr. Shaw violated the Lacey Act,” he said.

Evans said he has met with officials from the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and “they are well
aware the Shaws moved back to New Zealand.”

Evans said he’s going to wait until he has further conversations
with the government before commenting on when Shaw might return to
the U.S.

The Lacey Act adds federal enforcement to state wildlife laws
and governs the import, export and interstate shipment of animals.
Each felony violation of the Lacey Act can bring as many as five
years in prison, a fine of $250,000 for an individual or $500,000
for an organization and forfeiture of assets used in the crime.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals broke the case after
placing an undercover investigator as an employee at U.S. Global
Exotics, which had about 500 species of animals in its Arlington
warehouse.

“If it weren’t for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, these
animals would not have been helped,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, a
PETA vice president.

Arlington Municipal Court Judge Michael Smith determined that
the animals’ level of care amounted to cruelty, ruling the seizure
was justified. A Tarrant County court-at-law judge later upheld
Smith’s ruling.

The SPCA of Texas was given custody of the animals after the
raid, organizing the largest rescue in U.S. history. Zoos, rescue
groups and sanctuaries across the country and in Canada took the
animals and then either kept them or transferred them to other
owners.

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