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Tarantula Dealer caught sending T's Illegally through US mail

Discussion in 'Tarantula Chat' started by Singapore_Blue1, Dec 4, 2010.

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  1. Singapore_Blue1

    Singapore_Blue1 Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Los Angeles (CNN) -- A German tarantula dealer has been arrested on charges of illegally sending hundreds of the spiders to the United States through the U.S. mail, law enforcement officials said.

    Sven Koppler, 37, who had just flown into in Los Angeles, was arrested Thursday after a nine-month investigation dubbed "Operation Spiderman," authorities said.

    Koppler will remain jailed until a bond hearing December 8, authorities said. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 17 and arraignment is December 20.

    Deputy Federal Public Defender Neha Mehta told CNN "it is very early in the case" and that she could not comment.

    Koppler faces one count of illegally importing wildlife into the United States, the U.S. attorney's office for the district said in a news release. He failed to receive permits and did not declare the spiders, attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek told CNN.

    Special agents and inspectors with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Postal Service began to investigate Koppler's shipments last March, according to the release.

    Of the more than 600 tarantulas under question, some were of the Brachypelma smithi species, commonly known as Mexican red-kneed tarantulas. This species is protected under an international treaty and can only be traded with special permits.

    Koppler failed to declare to the Fish and Wildlife Service that he had shipped the tarantulas and that is why they are considered smuggled, Mrozek said.

    If convicted, Koppler could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison and fined $250,000, prosecutors said.

    The Brachypelma genus of spiders is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Specimens can be legally traded only if permits are first obtained from the exporting country, the news release said.

    According to the criminal complaint, Koppler mailed more than 500 tarantulas. Many were wrapped in colored plastic straws. Agents made subsequent undercover buys from Koppler, the attorney's office says. Koppler received about $300,000 as a result of tarantula sales around the world, according to the release.

    Michael Sheller, who owns Vogelspinnen, a tarantula clearinghouse in Sprendlingen, near Frankfurt, Germany, said Koppler is a well-known and highly respected man in the tarantula business.

    "He is a very reputable dealer," said Sheller. "I am shocked, I know him very well."

    Sheller, who exports hundreds of tarantulas each year, said it is important to follow the shipment rules. He said his biggest customers are in the United States.

    "Tarantulas are fascinating" Sheller said. "I make my living off of them."
  2. Singapore_Blue1

    Singapore_Blue1 Arachnoknight Old Timer

    This is not good

    The title says it all. This is not good at all and it could have serious reprocussions on our hobby thanks to greed.:wall::wall:
  3. Poxicator

    Poxicator Arachnobaron

    this has already been posted twice in the forum :)
  4. Singapore_Blue1

    Singapore_Blue1 Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Posted on CNN now

    Yeah I remember it being discussed before but they have officially released it on CNN now
  5. paassatt

    paassatt Arachnoangel

    I think if there are to be accusations of greed levied upon anyone, it should be against the government for being upset only because the dealer didn't fill out the requisite paperwork to ensure they got their money in the form of them issuing a permit. Do you believe for one second the government is concerned about the safety and proper treatment and handling of the tarantulas? As long as people apply for the permits the government requires, they could get away with shipping the tarantulas in conditions that aren't good for the their health and well-being. Follow the money.
  6. Zoltan

    Zoltan Cult Leader

    Moderator Note

    And does that really warrant creating a 3rd thread for it? I don't think so. Feel free to continue the discussion in the other 2 threads.
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