Texas Biologist Indicted for Wildlife Trafficking

Published 5:24 pm Thursday, January 27, 2022

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An associate professor of biology at  West Texas A&M University has been indicted for smuggling goods into the United States and violating the Endangered Species Act, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.

Dr. Richard Kazmaier, 54, allegedly imported protected wildlife items into the country without declaring it or obtaining the required permits.

The Endangered Species Act and federal regulations require importers to declare wildlife, including parts and products, to customs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when it enters the country.

The indictment charges that, between March 2017 and February 2020, Dr. Kazmaier imported wildlife items from around the world into the United States without declaring them. These items included skulls, skeletons and taxidermy mounts.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulates trade in endangered or threatened species through permit requirements. The United States and 183 other countries are signatories to the CITES treaty.

The indictment also charges Dr. Kazmaier with importing wildlife items from 14 protected species without obtaining permits, including the Eurasian otter, lynx, caracal, vervet monkey, greater naked-tailed armadillo, and king bird-of-paradise.

An indictment is merely an allegation, not evidence. Like all defendants, Dr. Kazmaier is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the felony smuggling charge. The two Endangered Species Act charges are misdemeanors with a maximum sentence of one year incarceration and a $100,000 fine.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement in Redmond, Washington, conducted the investigation as part of Operation Global Reach, which focused on the trafficking of wildlife from Indonesia to the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Bell for the Northern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Ryan Connors of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section are prosecuting the case.