Five men have been charged in New Orleans with crimes related to illegally exporting birds protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) from the United States to Taiwan. William McGinness, 59, of Buena Park, California; Paul Tallman, 55, of Destreham, Louisiana; Rene Rizal, 62, of La Mirada, California; Wayne Andrews, 46, of Royal Oaks, California and Alex Madriaga, 76, of Buena Park, California; were each indicted in federal court in the eastern District of Louisiana today.
On May 31, 2018, a five-count indictment was returned charging McGinness, Tallman, Rizal, Andrews and Madriaga with conspiracy to smuggle CITES-protected birds from the United States to Taiwan. McGuinness was also charged with smuggling birds to Taiwan and three counts of making and submitting false records under the Lacey Act, and Tallman was charged with smuggling and one count of making and submitting false records under the Lacey Act.
The indictment alleges, among other things, that McGinness, a resident of California, and his co-conspirators created false statements and submitted them to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in order to illegally export CITES-protected birds from the Port of New Orleans to Taiwan. The shipment included 90 CITES-protected birds, including parrots, macaws, cockatoos and corellas. Several of the birds were in crates that were falsely labeled. The USFWS seized 14 of the birds at the airport in Houston, Texas before they were exported.
The indictments were announced today by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Acting Assistant Director Edward Grace of the Office of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“These indictments demonstrate our commitment, shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to investigate and prosecute those engaged in illegal trade of protected animals,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood. “We will continue to collaborate with our partners at the federal, state and local levels to prosecute wildlife smuggling.”
"Today’s indictments were the result of a complex investigation into the wildlife trafficking of protected birds,” said Acting Assistant Director Grace. “Wildlife trafficking is a serious crime that is detrimental to species around the world. I am very proud of our special agents and wildlife inspectors who helped bring these defendants to justice."
The United States and approximately 182 other countries are signatories to CITES, which provides a mechanism for regulating international trade in species whose continued survival is threatened by such trade. Species are listed on “appendices,” based on the level of protection necessary to protect the species.
The case was investigated by the USFWS and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section. The government is represented by Environmental Crimes Section Trial Attorney Mary Dee Carraway.