Irish man (50) jailed in US for smuggling valuable rhinoceros horn

Richard Sheridan sentenced to 14 months in prison after pleading guilty at court in Miami

US authorities have been clamping down on smugglers who seek to profit from the huge price tags attached to endangered species such as rhinoceros in recent years. Photograph: iStock

US authorities have been clamping down on smugglers who seek to profit from the huge price tags attached to endangered species such as rhinoceros in recent years. Photograph: iStock

 

An Irish man has been sentenced to 14 months in prison and two years of supervised release in the United States on wildlife smuggling charges.

Richard Sheridan (50), listed as having an address in Cambridge, England, pleaded guilty at a court in Miami to smuggling a valuable rhinoceros horn.

He was sentenced by US District Judge Jose E Martinez at a hearing on Tuesday.

The accused was arraigned in Miami in 2014 on the charges. A second Irish national, Michael Hegarty, was also indicted at that time with conspiracy to traffic in a cup made from the horn of protected rhinoceros.

Hegarty was sentenced in federal court in Miami to 18 months in prison plus three years of supervised release on smuggling charges.

According to the original indictment, Sheridan and Hegarty bought the cup from an auction house in Rockingham, North Carolina and then smuggled the cup out of the United States.

Interpol was involved in the arrests of the two men.

“Sheridan conspired to profit from the demise of one of the world’s most endangered species,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division on Tuesday.

“We will continue to work with our international partners to fight the trade in protected and endangered species, and organised criminal enterprises associated with it.”

US authorities have been clamping down on smugglers who seek to profit from the huge price tags attached to endangered species such as rhinoceros in recent years. A number of Irish nationals have been charged in connection with trafficking offences.

In August this year, a 30-year-old Irish man appeared before the High Court in Dublin on foot of an extradition request by US authorities. He was wanted on charges of wildlife trafficking, including in the horns of endangered rhinoceroses. John Slattery, otherwise known as John Flynn, from Old Barrack View, Fairhill, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, is accused of committing three offences in the US relating to wildlife trafficking.