Justice Department Deports Seven Illegally Trafficked Boa Constrictors

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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The Justice Department announced Wednesday it has deported seven Brazilian snakes illegally trafficked into the United States, just a few months after Obama’s chief immigration officer testified before Congress about about the trouble her agency is having deporting illegal immigrants.

The seven boa constrictors are the children of a rare white boa constrictor known as “Lucy” or “Diamond Princess,” that was found in Brazil in 2006 and moved to a private zoo that rescues and rehabilitates injured wild animals. Jeremy Stone, who breeds and sells reptiles, went to Brazil in 2009 and returned with “Lucy.” (RELATED: ICE Officers Carry Flash Cards To Help Them Remember Who They Can Deport)

Federal investigators were tipped off when they learned Stone was selling snakes bred from a rare white boa, and obtained a warrant to seize Lucy and her offspring at the request of the Brazilian government.

They were too late to save Lucy, but they transferred her eight offspring to a Utah zoo.

Stone pleaded guilty to the wildlife trafficking crime last July, and the Justice Department has now successfully deported the surviving seven offspring back to Brazil. (RELATED: Obama’s Deputies Deported Only 0.2 Percent Of 11.7 Million Illegals In 2013)

“This case exhibited many of the hallmarks that make illegal wildlife trafficking a growing international scourge, including actors motivated by greed who illegally smuggled rare and precious wildlife across international boundaries,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement, adding that the deportations are an example of the agency’s commitment to combatting transnational crime. (RELATED: ICE Has ‘Largely Abandoned Efforts To Punish Employers Who Hire Illegals)

“The return of the precious snakes to Brazil brings to an end this years-long international saga,” he said.

In April, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldaña attributed an 18 percent drop in the number of deportations of criminal illegal immigrants to a surge of Central American children crossing the border, and to uncooperative local and foreign governments.

Only 102,000 criminal illegal immigrants in the custody of ICE were deported in Fiscal Year 2014, and the number of arrests of criminal illegal immigrants is down by 35 percent from this time last year.

“While the reasons for this may vary … in certain circumstances we believe such a lack of cooperation [from local and foreign governments] may increase the risk that dangerous criminals are returned to the streets, putting the public and our officers at greater risk,” Saldana testified.

Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte said in a statement following the hearing that President Barack Obama has “steadily dismantled” the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. “Under the Obama Administration’s watch, the apprehension, detention, and removal of unlawful and criminal aliens has dramatically declined.”

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