Six people, including a Hesperia man, were charged Thursday morning in Los Angeles federal court accused of selling endangered species and animal parts online through sites including Craigslist.
Rodrigo Macedo, 29, of Hesperia is accused selling two Western Scrub Jays in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of six months in federal prison.
Macedo was arrested as part of a 14-day operation conducted from Aug. 8 to Aug. 22 last year by local law enforcement officers, federal agencies and three Asian countries led by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Our message is clear and simple: The internet is not an open marketplace for protected species," said Edward Grace, the Service's Deputy Assistant Director for Law Enforcement in a written statement. "State partners and our counterparts were essential to the success of this operation, and that cooperation remains critical to disrupting wildlife trafficking on the Web and elsewhere."
Rene De La Peza, 42, of Hacienda Heights, reportedly advertised and sold a jaguar skin through Craigslist for $15,000. Jaguars have been listed as endangered for 40 years. If convicted, he could be sent to federal prison for up to one year.
Hungtington Beach husband and wife, Hanna Karim, 44, and Margarita Licomitros, 36, are facing charges of offering an endangered species for sale. They're also accused of advertising the pelt of a Sumatran Tiger skin for $8,000 on Craigslist. Tigers are critically endangered with experts estimating there are less than 500 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild.
Michael Roy McIntire, 59, of Encino, is accused of selling three migratory bird mounts -- a canvasback, a cinnamon teal and a mallard -- in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. If convicted, McIntire would face up to six months in prison.
Hancock Park resident, Lewis Keister, 42, and the owner of East Meets West Antiques on La Brea Avenue, allegedly sold a pair of seal fur moccasins for $750 last August. He's also accused of selling three Native American dolls, one said to be made of whale bone, and three bags, one made of seal fur, to an undercover agent last December.
Some of the items seized during the operation included the pelts of endangered big cats such as Sumatran tiger, leopard and jaguar; live migratory birds, sea turtle shells and sea turtle skin boots, whale teeth, elephant ivory, migratory bird mounts, walrus ivory and other items valued at more than $60,000.