Tag Archives: Law enforcement

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.

Squirrel monkey photo by Tambako The Jaguar/ Creative Commons

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.

 

Honoring our veterans: Re-enactments help one Service employee show his gratitude

Wildlife inspector Damian Martelli serving in Desert Storm. Photo credit: USFWS

Wildlife inspector Damian Martelli serving in Desert Storm. Photo credit: USFWS

Damian Martelli currently works as a wildlife inspector in our Amherst, New York, law enforcement office. He began his military career in 1990, joining the U.S. Army and serving in Operation Desert Storm while being stationed in Germany. He then continued in the military from 1997 to 2010 serving with the Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve.

Today Damian shares with us his story about participating in World War II re-enactments and his interest in educating others of the sacrifices our forefathers endured to ensure the freedoms we continue to have as American citizens.

I’ve always had a strong passion for American history. As a kid, I listened intently as my grandparents told stories about the second World War of which both my grandfathers served. Then, as a teenager growing up near Washington D.C. I frequently visited the Smithsonian museums and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I set my sights on being a history teacher or a soldier. I chose the latter.

View of the beach where the re-enactment took place. Photo: Damian Martelli

View of the beach where the re-enactment took place. Photo: Damian Martelli

My first impressions of a re-enactment were always that of colonial or civil war battles, which is why I was surprised to come across a living history group portraying a weapons platoon of the First Infantry Division. I learned that mock World War II battle events occur year round in various places but the big shocker for me was learning about an actual event that recreates the D-Day landings in Normandy! Held annually each year, the D-Day tribute takes place on the Lake Erie shoreline in Conneaut, Ohio, which bears some resemblance to Omaha Beach.

Damian and his group disembark from the landing craft. Photo: Damian Martelli

Damian and his group disembark from the landing craft. Photo: Damian Martelli

On the morning of the event, World War II veteran John Bistricia who was in the first assault wave of the Normandy landings, conducted an inspection of our company. At the conclusion of his review, Mr. Bistricia delivered a heartfelt and sincere message of gratitude to see people, many of whom several generations removed, to be honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Damian (standing on the far right) gathers at the re-enactment with members of Dog Company, 16th Infantry,  1st Infantry Division. Photo: Damian Martelli

Damian (standing on the far right) gathers at the re-enactment with members of Dog Company, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Photo: Damian Martelli

The mock beach landing was a spectacular display of pyrotechnics and simulated strafing runs from four P-51 mustangs and one B-25 bomber. It was not only a tremendous experience to participate in, but to meet some great people and pay tribute. I am currently working on a living history project which focuses on honoring the sacrifices many soldiers made during the Vietnam conflict.

When I joined the Army in 1990 and later the Air Force in 1997, it was awe-inspiring to know I belonged to something great with a long legacy of distinguished service to the United States. Today, the same holds true for my job as a wildlife inspector: I know I belong to a great organization which performs a unique mission in support of our country.

This photo captures Damian's actual days serving in the military. Here, Damian and his squad get ready for a helicopter insertion training exercise. Photo: Damian Martelli

This photo captures Damian’s actual days serving in the military. Here, Damian and his squad get ready for a helicopter insertion training exercise. Photo: Damian Martelli

View our photo gallery of veterans from across the country

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My life after the internship: Gabriel Harper

This year, we checked in with some of our past interns to find out what came next after their internship ended. Did they stay with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or land another sweet job? We hope they put those skills to good use! Look out for these stories to find out about their life after the internship. Today, meet Gabriel Harper, a superstar federal wildlife officer. Below, find out where he started with us and how he got where he is now.

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Gabriel Harper began his career with the Service through the Conservation Internship Program, now the Career Discovery Internship Program, a partnership between the Service and The Student Conservation Association to help prepare the next generation of wildlife professionals and managers.

The Student Conservation Association allowed for my first true glimpse into the world of conservation. I began my internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in May 2009, at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach. With minimal prior knowledge of the agency, I approached this venture with an open mind and eager attitude. It was the summer of many “firsts” for me! Back Bay afforded me my first time camping, fishing, kayaking, and birding, while also having the duties of giving interpretive speeches and leading guided tours throughout the refuge.

From what was initially intended to be a 12-week internship, with the support from my supervisors, I was converted to a federal career intern position as a park ranger with the Service within a year of my arrival. Shortly thereafter, I transitioned to permanent employee status, where I led guided tours for schools and other large groups, providing information on wildlife and habitat management. Some of my other job duties included assisting the biology staff members with the threatened sea turtle protection program, wildlife surveys, and invasive species control. I developed a passion for outreach, and it led me to look for new innovative ways to bring minorities to experience all the opportunities the great outdoors have to offer.

NCTC broadcast

Gabriel during a broadcast at the National Conservation Training Center about illegal wildlife trade.

In 2011, my passion for the environment led me to pursue a career in law enforcement. After close to a year in training, I was sworn in as a federal wildlife officer with the Service. This unique career field equipped me with the tools and skills necessary to confront illegal hunting, trapping, and harvesting of wildlife and plants. I found that I wasn’t too far from my foundation. A typical day could consist of me teaching youth how to fish, conduct a deer poaching investigation, meet with state conservation officers to discuss an upcoming deer decoy operation, stop and investigate a DUI (driving under the influence) on a refuge, or even assist in natural disaster relief efforts anywhere in the US.

Now in my fourth year with the Service, I work at Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Maryland. I continue to manifest fervent hunger that propelled me in the past days when I was seeking employment. There is still so much I feel needs to be done to bring awareness about our mission. On an individual level, I have made myself available to different programs throughout the agency such as the Service Honor Guard, the special operations response team, and the diversity change agents. My commitment to protect our natural resources is rejuvenated every time I step foot on my refuge.

Full HG Team John TAYLOR funeral

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Honor Guard.