Photo on the left from The Old Cavern Boutique Facebook page
On Friday, May 28, 26-year-old Vanessa Rondo, of Montreal, Quebec, was arrested and charged with illegally selling and transporting polar bear skulls to an undercover agent posing as a buyer from the city. Buffalo, New York. Fees will be subject to a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $ 250,000 fine.
According to statement released U.S. Department of Justice Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, Rondo, who originally appeared before the U.S. District Court in Vermont, has been released Cash bond of $ 50,000. Rondo’s next appearance in court will take place at New York on the June 15th.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is in charge of the case, stated that, according to the complaint, the defendant owns and operates a business called Boutique in an old cave in Montreal, which offers many unusual items for sale, many of which are made in whole or in part from the wild.
On the May 29, post in boutique facebook page explained that the store would “take a little distraction from social media.” He also mentioned that “not everything” posted on the media or social media is accurate. This is an interesting comment, given that the page contains a large assortment of photographs and descriptions of wildlife items for sale, many of which are protected by federal law.
On the January 24 this year, Rondo ran an ad for a “new” polar bear skull that could be bought for USD 699 from $ 100 deposit on the Old Cavern’s Facebook page, which also encouraged people to send a private message.
USFWS Special Agent expressed interest in purchasing a polar bear skull and the respondent agreed on a price $ 685 per skull, which included Shipping cost $ 35. On the February 11th, The special agent received the skull of a polar bear.
However, this was not the first time that Rondo had offered a polar bear skull for sale.
On the 13 January 2020, secretly, the same special agent contacted the accused and requested photographs of all available polar bear skulls. Rondo sent in a photo of a polar bear’s skull with the comment that it was her “last.” The defendant offered to sell the skull of a polar bear for 750 dollars, plus $ 30 for shipment to Buffalo, NY. Upon inquiry and additional photographs, the Special Agent agreed to purchase a polar bear skull. The special agent received the skull of a polar bear on 02 February 2020
The complaint is the result of an investigation by United States Fisheries and Wildlife Service, led by Ryan Noel, Special Agent in charge USFWS – North Atlantic Appalachian Region Law Enforcement Administration. Additional assistance was provided by Vermont Office of National Security Investigations, and Vermont Customs and Border Protection.
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The post “Canadian woman named Vanessa Rondo arrested for selling and smuggling polar bear skulls to the United States” first appeared in World Animal News.