Virginia Beach man pleads guilty to trafficking black bear parts

Generic bear photo
Generic bear photo

WASHINGTON (AP/WAVY) — Federal prosecutors say a Virginia Beach man has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the illegal trafficking of American black bear parts from western North Carolina.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Monday that Vu Johnnie Nguyen pleaded guilty on Monday in U.S. District Court in Asheville, North Carolina. The plea follows a year-long investigation into Nguyen’s trafficking of the bear parts.

Court documents say Nguyen engaged in the sale and purchase and intent to sell 18 American black bear gall bladders, 16 American black bear claws, two American black bear paws and approximately 50 pounds of American black bear meat in 2014. Bear gall bladders and paws are used in Asian traditional medicine markets.

“When we think of the victims of wildlife trafficking, it’s elephants and rhinos in Africa, tigers in India and parrots in South America that usually come to mind; but there are many animals and plants here in the United States that are also repeatedly subjected to poaching for illegal international trade, including black bear,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “This case shows our continued commitment to bringing criminals who deprive our children of the chance to see these magnificent creatures to justice.”

Nguyen faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of the agreement, he has agreed to publish a statement apologizing for his illegal conduct.

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