A Eufaula man is one of two indicted in a federal bird trafficking case.
Toney Jones, 53, of Eufaula, is charged with conspiracy, smuggling, Endangered Species Act (ESA) and money laundering. The other suspect, 74-year-old John Waldrop of Cataula, Georgia, is accused of the same.
The birds in question were not alive but were taxidermy bird mounts. Prosecutors believe the pair imported the birds and thousands of eggs into the United States between 2016 and 2020.
U.S. law requires importers to declare those types of items to Customs and requires a permit.
Prosecutors allege Jones and Waldrop bought the birds and eggs online. Some of the species discovered were canary, dipper duck, eagle, falcon, grouse, gull, hawk, heron, hoopoe, kestrel, kinglet, lapwing, murre, owl, parrot, pochard, rail, teal, snipe, spoonbill, vulture and woodpecker.
“In addition to the conspiracy, the indictment charges Waldrop and Jones with importing three packages containing birds and eggs in 2020 through John F. Kennedy International Airport in violation of smuggling and ESA laws,” the DOJ stated in a press release. “The packages contained a Levant sparrowhawk, a grasshopper buzzard-hawk, two gull eggs, two murre eggs and one unidentified bird egg. The final count of the indictment alleges that Waldrop and Jones conspired to commit money laundering by sending funds out of the United States to finance bird smuggling. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of 779 bird mounts and 2,594 eggs allegedly illegally imported into the United States.”
“This investigation highlights the immense pressure illegal trade places on imperiled bird species around the world and the Service’s commitment to upholding laws and treaties that prevent the exploitation of foreign and domestic species,” said Assistant Director Edward Grace of the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement. “We hope this indictment sends a clear message that our investigators will work tirelessly to seek justice for poached wildlife.”
Both suspects were indicted Wednesday and are scheduled for an arraignment on Oct. 16. They face over 40 years in prison.
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