Crossing the line: Illegal Exports of Monkey Blood
Illegal transport of squirrel monkey blood has one company paying the price. As a result of undercover investigation “Operation Sanguis” led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the owner of BioChemed Services Inc, a biological product company, has pleaded guilty of creating and submitting false labels of animal products to avoid screening requirements. BioChemed is a broker of human and animal blood products, supplying research companies with samples for biomedical research.
To avoid over-exploitation of wildlife, purchasing and shipping animal blood requires special permitting. The Office of Law Enforcement discovered that the owner of BioChemed, Philip Lloyd, and/or his employees, intentionally packaged and shipped animal blood falsely labeled as human blood to avoid permits and higher costs. In this attempt to evade the law, Lloyd also shipped the correct labels later in a separate FedEx envelope, which was not subject to inspection by service officials. This international order to Canada was placed in January 2014 by a Service special agent working covertly.
The international shipment contained blood from squirrel monkeys, an animal protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (“CITES”). CITES is an international agreement that protects fish, wildlife and plant populations that could be harmed as a result of trade and restricts transport of at-risk species. Without proper permits, these actions violate the treaty and puts wildlife at risk.
Lloyd pleaded guilty in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. In March 2017, Lloyd was sentenced to four months incarceration and a $250,000 fine.
In addition, Service special agents collaboratively worked with Homeland Security Investigations who coordinated with South Korean investigators. Based on information uncovered during the investigation, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency arrested the owner of Biomedex Korea, for violations of the Korean Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, Wildlife Protection and Management Act, and customs law. The Korean subject admitted that from 2008 to 2016, she smuggled animal blood plasma and serum, labeled as “human blood” over 260 times into South Korea from the United States.