8 Men Charged in Florida Monkey Smuggling Ring

After a year’s long investigation, U.S. Federal prosecutors with the Southern District of Florida have indicted Masphal Kry, 46, the deputy director of wildlife & biodiversity for Cambodia’s ministry of agriculture, Omaliss Keo, 58, director general of the Cambodian forestry administration, ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, as well as 6 other people for their involvement in a ring that smuggled hundreds of endangered monkeys into the United States.

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The two Cambodian officials plus six people connected to the Hong Kong-based company Vanny Resources Holdings, were involved with breeding long-tailed macaques for scientific and academic research, supplying them to labs in Florida and Texas. But they are accused of illegally purchasing wild macaques for the business when they lacked inventory from their breeding operations.

Although Kry’s job is to prevent the smuggling, he was part of it. Kry was arrested at JFK airport while on his way to an anti-smuggling conference in Panama.

According to the criminal complaint, the macaques were taken from national parks in Cambodia to breeding facilities where they were provided false export permits, officials said. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials received cash payments of $220 each in exchange for a total of 3,000 “unofficial” monkeys.

“The macaque is already recognized as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Juan Antonio Gonzalez said in a statement. “The practice of illegally taking them from their habitat to end up in a lab is something we need to stop. Greed should never come before responsible conservation.”

According to the indictment, Vanny Resources Holdings founder and owner James Man Sang Lau, 64, and Vanny Resources Holdings general manager Dickson Lau, 29, owned and managed several corporations that conspired with black market collectors and officials in Cambodia to acquire wild macaques and export them to the U.S., falsely labelled as captive bred. four more Vanny employees were indicted as well. If found guilty, the defendants are facing up to 145 years in prison.

Additional stories you may want to read:

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