Defendant Imported Live Chinese Giant Salamanders and Various Reptiles
LITTLE ROCK—A Conway man has pleaded guilty to importing and possessing illegally taken wildlife. Jackson Roe, 27, entered his guilty plea Wednesday afternoonbefore Chief United States District Judge D. Price Marshall, Junior.
In August 2015, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service received an anonymous tip about the illegal activity of a reptile hobbyist who sold and smuggled various animals into the United States. Through undercover conversations with this individual, located in China, agents learned that he was shipping rare and endangered animals to various buyers, including one individual in Arkansas named Jackson Roe. Wildlife inspectors intercepted a package addressed to Roe that contained two live Chinese giant salamanders—an endangered species, in plastic jars, with wet moss. There were no holes in the box for air and no documents in the package.
In August of 2017, a search warrant was executed by US Fish and Wildlife Service on the home of Roe’s parents. A consent search of Roe’s home was also performed. Roe admitted to investigators that he had illegally purchased several live amphibians and reptiles from a Chinese dealer he met on Facebook. He stated he paid $450 for each salamander, and that he knew they were protected and expected to become extinct in the next ten years. Roe admitted that he knew what he did was wrong. In total, Roe received seven packages shipped from Hong Kong, which included six Chinese giant salamanders, a Vietnamese leaf turtle, an Indian roofed turtle, and a Chinese big-headed turtle. Roe also informed agents that he owned a Nile crocodile, a Morelet’s crocodile, and an American alligator, all of which were seized later that day by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Approximately two years later, in October of 2019, the US Fish and Wildlife Service received information that Roe was again in possession of Chinese giant salamanders illegally smuggled into the United States from China. On November 14, 2019, USFWS executed a search warrant on Roe’s home and discovered, among other animals, two live Chinese giant salamanders and four deceased Chinese giant salamanders. Roe admitted to law enforcement that he had illegally purchased the six Chinese giant salamanders within the two previous years from China.
Judge Marshall will sentence Roe at a later date. Importation or Possession of Illegally Taken Wildlife is punishable by not more than five years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000, and not more than three years supervised release.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward O. Walker.