Irishman faces prison for involvement in sale of rhino horns

Wed, Nov 6, 2013, 09:33

An Irishman faces up to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to forging documents relating to the illegal sale of horns from endangered black rhinos to a New York collector for $50,000 (€37,100).

Michael Slattery jnr (25), who US prosecutors say is linked to a criminal gang from Rathkeale, Co Limerick, made the guilty plea over the trafficking charge in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York.

Slattery was arrested in September at Newark airport in New Jersey while boarding a flight to London. His arrest was part of a law enforcement operation known as Operation Crash into the black market trade in rhino horns, Operation Crash.

Prosecutors said that Slattery used a “straw buyer” to purchase a black rhinoceros mount from a business in Austin, Texas in 2010. The Irishman and his co-conspirators later sold the horns from the mount to an individual in Flushing, New York providing the buyer with a false “endangered species bill of sale.”

Slattery will be sentenced on January 10th.