crime, local, news

Live Scorpions illegally traded

By Stan Bernstein | The Rose Cityian/Rose City Live

A 39-year-old Track Town man pleaded guilty Monday to illegally importing and exporting hundreds of live scorpions, sending or receiving them from other states and Germany in U.S. postal packages in violation of federal law.

In one shipment, a package of the live creatures was misleadingly labeled as containing “chocolates.”

In another received Dec. 22, 2017, 200 live scorpions arrived via U.S. mail from Michigan, according to court records.

The illegal smuggling occurred between September 2017 and March 21, 2018, without a required import-export license from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Darren Dennis Danny Drake, described in court records as a “scorpion enthusiast” who bought, sold and traded the predatory arachnids, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit violations of the Lacey Act, which bans trafficking in illegal wildlife, in federal court in Jackson County.

If he stays out of trouble and continues to accept responsibility, prosecutors will recommend he be sentenced to two years of probation, pay a $5,000 fine and complete 250 hours of community service, according to court records.

Prosecutors will also recommend that Drake’s community service involve research and homework imposed under the direction of Meredith L. Gore, a conservation social scientist who teaches at the University of Maryland and holds a doctorate degree in natural resource policy and management from Cornell University.

Drake, who previously lived in southern part of the state, is scheduled to be sentenced June 22 before the U.S. District Judge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, responsible for protecting America’s wildlife from poaching, illegal commercialization and other crimes, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, investigated the case.