South African Professional Hunter Charged with Federal Crimes for Illegal Elephant Hunts

wesheltonj

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That’s a pretty grey area and weak at best. I’m not saying he was right to do so but “conspiring” to commit a crime isn’t illegal. If money changed hands then that would be a little stronger case but even then really he would have to sell the hunt and do it illegally for it to be an actual crime. Then you could look at it that he intentionally sold an illegal hunt in the US but the problem is still going to occur that the offense happened 17,000 miles away.

Except, it is in the Federal system. In fact if they cannot get you for anything else, they get you for conspiri
 

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The Director of the Dallas Safari Club shot and wounded an Elephant. The Director of the Dallas Safari Club then paid bribes to government officials in a protected park in Zimbabwe to hunt another Elephant. The Director of the Dallas Safari Club then bribed more African officials to illegal export poached ivory into the USA. Did I get that all basically correct?

Part correct. - He was going to import the Ivory into the RSA and not USA. And have copies made of the Ivory, and import the fakes to the USA and sell the real stuff in RSA
 

flatwater bill

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While everyone seems indignant about this, what you really should be worried about is this:
" Van Rensburg, 44, also is charged with violating a broader US law that makes it illegal to transport wildlife killed in violation of ANY foreign law"...
I got a speeding ticket in Kyrgyzstan on the way to a hunt......
Ever pay a bribe to get thru the airport in JNB? Maputo?....or to pick up your "lost" rifle?
Run a red light in Argentina?......

They bagged the DSC chairman. They can get you too. Everyone.....everyone that has traveled and hunted has violated SOME foreign law. Beware of this precedent......this is how they will get us......FWB
 

PeteG

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While everyone seems indignant about this, what you really should be worried about is this:
" Van Rensburg, 44, also is charged with violating a broader US law that makes it illegal to transport wildlife killed in violation of ANY foreign law"...
I got a speeding ticket in Kyrgyzstan on the way to a hunt......
Ever pay a bribe to get thru the airport in JNB? Maputo?....or to pick up your "lost" rifle?
Run a red light in Argentina?......

They bagged the DSC chairman. They can get you too. Everyone.....everyone that has traveled and hunted has violated SOME foreign law. Beware of this precedent......this is how they will get us......FWB
That’s quite scary...
Perhaps there is a motive behind the scenes aside from the obvious allegations at hand?
 

wesheltonj

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While everyone seems indignant about this, what you really should be worried about is this:
" Van Rensburg, 44, also is charged with violating a broader US law that makes it illegal to transport wildlife killed in violation of ANY foreign law"...
I got a speeding ticket in Kyrgyzstan on the way to a hunt......
Ever pay a bribe to get thru the airport in JNB? Maputo?....or to pick up your "lost" rifle?
Run a red light in Argentina?......

They bagged the DSC chairman. They can get you too. Everyone.....everyone that has traveled and hunted has violated SOME foreign law. Beware of this precedent......this is how they will get us......FWB

(1) It has always been illegal to bribe a foreign official.

(2) the DSC board member violated USA law and Zimbabwe law. He entered into a conspiracy with his PH (and perhaps others) to violate the Endangered Species Act, the Lacy Act and other USA laws. He bribed foreign officials to claim he shot the elephant outside the National Park, when he shot it inside a National Park which is a violation of Zimbabwe law. I don't think most of us have a plan to shoot and elephant inside a National Park, Bribe the Game Scouts to lie, us a USA Customs Broker to import the tusks from one country to another when you do not reside there, falsify documents claiming to reside in the RSA so you can import the tusk into the RSA and sell the tusks for $300 a pound, make copies and bring those home. His guy got off easy.

(3) the USA justice department is not going to care if you break a traffic law of another country, they don't care if you break a traffic law of this country unless you happen to be on federal property when you break the traffic
 

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Being a Director of a high profile hunting club certainly helps to draw attention.
 

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Being a Director of a high profile hunting club certainly helps to draw attention.

Couldn't he have just hunted elephant legally? Seems like a lot of shenanigans just to get tusk copies made.
 

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Couldn't he have just hunted elephant legally? ....

Oh sure, just don’t break the law. It would cut down on the excitement.
 

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Westj says................"It has always been against the law to bribe a public official.......
That's exactly the point. And hundreds of otherwise legal hunters have done it. If the feds come after you, but can't make a case, they are likely to use anything they can to get a conviction. Anything. There are thousands of people over the years, like you, who have said........."They're not gonna care if you........". You fill in the blank. No one here seems concerned about Federal agents prowling the sporting conventions? I am! Like KGB! There may well be AH members that troll here for a potential conviction. Am I paranoid? Yeah, probably need to get back on my meds, right? There are no real threats to hunting. ......................FWB
 

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Part correct. - He was going to import the Ivory into the RSA and not USA. And have copies made of the Ivory, and import the fakes to the USA and sell the real stuff in RSA

That plea agreement by the hunter makes for an interesting read, eh?
 

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I think there is no doubt the investigation was politically motivated. I think USFW is certainly close to the modern day equivalent of the KGB. But...... I am glad they caught the DSC director as that piece of shit needs to be strung up. Like I said before though it really chaps my ass that he’s getting off so light and all this effort is being put into going after a guy that is never going to see trail here and very likely would walk away Scott free if he did.
 

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Another worrisome thing about this is I know in some countries that employ game scouts- they expect to be "tipped" at safari end. I would imagine a court in the US could easily interpret this "tip" as a "bribe" and make the entire hunt and all imports illegal. Scary!
 

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I would like to hear Ross Jackson's side of the story. Not his plea bargain, but his confidential side to the story. I have been looking into hunting an elephant, and selling the tusks, and having reproductions made. I have been stopped at road blocks on 3 continents while hunting...have been required to make a friendly donation (bribe) to proceed. I have applied for a tag to hunt in a National Park many times, I may even have colluded with a Russian once or twice. And I have seen the anti-hunting arm of the USFWS in action. I have not yet received a citation. And for all those calling for this man to be stoned to death (and an above quote showing possible 20 years in prison), the same week this happened, and in the same state-Colorado....5 men forcibly raped a 13 year old girl...........and received probation(what? not on CNN?) The Colorado Greenies know what real evil is......FWB
 

wesheltonj

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That plea agreement by the hunter makes for an interesting read, eh?

Yes it does. I see the US Customs Broker is or was a member here -- SSI.
 

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. I have been looking into hunting an elephant, and selling the tusks, and having reproductions made.


If an elephant was killed post 1976 (I believe is the year) do not even consider selling the ivory.
 

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Sort of reminds me in a way, of a few years ago when FWS here, got all up in arms because my boy and I had all of our SA trophies listed in my name, and we didn't have written "permission" from all of the owners of properties we hunted on (for him) even though we drank beer with them after hunting there! So we had to go thru all manner of baloney to satisfy US FWS as to the legality of our hunt in RSA! FWS seemed to think that somehow while hunting with me and my PH in ANOTHER country was a problem for USFWS because my boy didn't have proper paperwork to hunt over THERE. With the help and advice of SSI we did eventually win the release of our trophies but not without a lot of angst and apprehension. We certainly didn't intend to violate any law, but they sure tried to make us feel like we did! The whole thing was BS! I will never willingly set foot in another FWS office again!
 

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I agree 100% that what he did was wrong morally but no offense occurred on US soil. You cannot convict someone of a crime that happened outside of your jurisdiction. It is against the laws of the US. Nor can you get a conviction for a crime that has not been committed yet. To be found guilty you have to prove the incident happened beyond a reasonable doubt within the jurisdiction in control of the agency. In this case USFW. That would limit it to the US and all US property. Unless they poached the elephant in the front lawn of the US embassy (if there is one) in Harare then they cannot get a conviction. Any decent lawyer will claim non jurisdiction and get it thrown out.
I think they are filing the case and issuing the warrant in the hopes the guy will never come to the US again or at least until the statute of limitations expires.
The only thing they could go after the “hunter” for would be importing illegal ivory, which, is enough as it carries the same punishment under the Lacey act if I’m not mistaken.
The problem here is that while we all agree the guy should be buried under a jail it must be gone about properly and within the scope of the law. Otherwise it’s going to open the door to illegal arrests, searches, and seizures. I have a real problem with the way our Federal Gov’t over reaches its authority with no consequences. They believe their reach has gone very long indeed if they think they can get a conviction here for the outfitter. It would also be a very sad day for our justice system if they do. I’m not saying that because I like what happened but it is not our job to police the world. What needs to happene is all of the evidence be turned over to the Zimbabwean gov’t and then USFW can assist in getting a conviction where the offense occurred. For what it’s worth, they could file on the hunter over there too and I’d be perfectly fine with that. On the actual poaching incident t side of things this has no business in the US court system.
@gizmo, I've found that we generally agree, and we do in substance on this matter as well, but I have to disagree with your legal advice. Now, I'm not qualified to practice in the US, but have a reasonably good knowledge of some US laws. So here's how I see it:

1. Conspiracy is an "inchoate" offence and a crime in many jurisdictions, including most, if not all, states and at the federal level in the US. Many jurisdictions limit conspiracy offences to those which relate to more serious substantive offences. You have to do more than have a conversation to be guilty of conspiracy, but taking active steps in furtherance of a crime it generally itself a crime. "Mens rea" or intent to commit the substantive offence (or general intent, rather than specific intent) is generally a necessary element of conspiracy. The individual here did more than enough to be charged with conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act.

2. The Lacey Act is not limited to species which are on the Endangered Species List. It covers any wildlife (and now plants) which were taken in violation of the law in the country where they were taken. This is a very wide-ranging law, and things to know include:

(a). The underlying foreign law violated does not have to be a criminal offence, and it does not even have to be an offence which is enforced in the place where the original violation occurred.

(b). The person liable under the Lacey Act does not have to be the person who violated the law in the foreign country. All that matters is that the law was violated by someone and the person who is liable only imported, or attempted to import, the animal or any part of it.

(c). The US courts will be the final judge of what the foreign law says and means, so getting something from the foreign country saying there was no violation according to the terms of their laws is not a defence (although it would help).

(d). The Lacey Act is a strict liability statute, so no intent, criminal or otherwise, is needed to be liable. The mere act of importing an animal illegally hunted by someone else, without your knowledge, or by you without any knowledge that it was taken illegally, is an offence.

So, to sum up the Lacey Act, if you shoot a leopard in a Parks concession in Zimbabwe at "last light", but it turns out that you were 5 minutes past the cutoff time, that hunt was illegal, even if Zimbabwe would give you a grace period, given the uncertainty around when last light actually is, and you could be charged if the trophy is imported into the US.

3. Extra-territorial jurisdiction. You say that the legal jurisdiction of the US is limited to US territory. That was an accurate statement of the law a long time ago, but the US, like many countries, has passed laws which make it a crime in the US for a person to commit certain offences outside of the US. Most countries which have these laws are limited in applying them to their own citizens who commit the crimes abroad. So, for example, Canada made it a criminal offence in Canada for Canadians to visit foreign countries for the purposes of engaging in sex with children. The US certainly applies its laws to US persons, but will also look for any other connection to the US in order to apply their laws to non-US Persons. So if a South African commits a crime in Zimbabwe which the US will enforce and the South African has sent emails to people in the US in furtherance of the offence, that's generally enough for the US to take jurisdiction. Most anti-terrorism laws also work on this principle. So the US will claim jurisdiction over citizens of foreign countries who have never set foot in the US but are taking actions, which the US deems illegal, against any US interests, even if it is in the country of citizenship of the individual. It's under these concepts that the US can say that an Afghan citizen who speaks no English, has never been outside of Afghanistan, couldn't find the US on a map if he had one and could read (which he can't), can be guilty of a crime in the US if he uses force to oppose the US presence in his country.

4. Being accused or charged with an offence may or may not be a big deal. A great deal depends on whether you are a citizen of a country which extradites its own citizens to foreign countries. Even those which do, generally limit extradition to serious crimes. I'm not sure the Lacey Act would qualify. If you are in a country where you are safe, then you will normally be required to stay there, to avoid being picked up at a third country airport under an Interpol warrant, if the US chooses to obtain one. But if our South African has no desire to see the world, well, my guess is he's safe. Or at least as safe as he can be, never being able to leave South Africa.

It's on this basis that the former CEO of Volkswagen, a German citizen, who was recently charged in the US for the diesel emissions matter, is safe in Germany. Apparently, his plans to visit Disneyland have been put on indefinite hold.

Now, with thanks for the break from studying, I have an exam on Wednesday, and it's time to get back to it.
 
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wesheltonj

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@Hank2211 Conspiracy at the federal level, from a training session for federal law enforcement. It's been over 8 years since Ive done anything at the federal level, so I had to look it up.


J. We are here today to discuss Conspiracy law. Specifically, we are going to talk about the general Conspiracy statute found at 18 United States Code § 371. In a separate podcast, we will also discuss Party Offenses which are found in Title 18 United States Code §§ 2(a), 2(b), 3 and 4.

M. John, what is a Conspiracy?

J. A Conspiracy can be described generally as a sort of partnership in crime. Legally, a Conspiracy exists when 2 or more persons join together and form an agreement to violate the law, and then act on that agreement. The crime of Conspiracy was created to address the inherent dangers posed to society when people come together and join forces to commit criminal acts. An important feature of the Conspiracy statute is that it enables the investigator to get beyond the first layer of visible members to find and prosecute the “brains” behind a criminal scheme or organization. Specific federal anti-conspiracy statutes are found throughout federal law. State statutes also contain anti-conspiracy laws. This podcast will focus exclusively on the general Conspiracy statute found at Title 18 USC § 371.

M. What are the elements of a conspiracy?

J. Well, there are basically 5 elements for the crime of Conspiracy. Those elements are: 1. You must have 2 or more persons who 2. Intentionally 3. make an agreement 4. to violate federal law or defraud the United states, and then 5. Commit some overt act in furtherance of the agreement. Based on these elements, we know that the crime of Conspiracy is a specific- intent crime. In other words Michelle, the government must prove that these 2 or more persons intentionally entered into an agreement to commit some criminal offense. This means that in proving that there are two (2) or more person involved, undercover officers and confidential informants would not count because they would not have the requisite criminal intent. Also, the overt act done in furtherance of the agreement must occur AFTER the agreement has been reached.

M. So, anytime 2 or more people are involved in a crime, there’s a Conspiracy?

J. Well, only if the government can prove that those involved entered into some agreement to commit the crime and that there was some overt act committed after the agreement was reached to help it succeed. Many times this “agreement” will be proven by circumstantial evidence. For example, if it can be shown that a participant is receiving some direct benefit from the illegal activity, this is a good indication that the person is a part of the Conspiracy. In addition, the overt act that follows the agreement doesn’t necessarily have to be an illegal act. It just has to be some act that demonstrates that the agreement is now being acted upon.

M. What is the penalty?

J. The general Conspiracy statute provides a maximum punishment of not more than five (5) years, as well as a fine up to $250,000.00 for a felony offense. For a misdemeanor offense, the maximum punishment cannot exceed the maximum possible punishment for the misdemeanor.

M. You said the crime of Conspiracy requires that there be an actual agreement to violate federal law or defraud the government. Tell me more about this “Agreement”?

J. Yes. The Agreement is the essence of any Conspiracy. One important thing to keep in mind is that the crime of Conspiracy is different and distinct from the substantive or underlying crime. In other words, a person can be prosecuted and convicted for the underlying crime AND for Conspiracy to commit that crime. Just having an agreement between two or more persons to commit a criminal offense is not, in itself, a Conspiracy. There MUST be some overt act in furtherance of the agreement committed AFTER the Agreement has been reached.

M. What do you mean, an “overt act?”

J. The final element of the crime of Conspiracy under Title 18, U.S.C. § 371 is the Overt Act. The Overt Act is some affirmative act done by one or more of the co- conspirators. The Overt Act, done in furtherance of the Agreement demonstrates that Agreement has advanced from merely talk to action. In other words, instead of simply talking about the crime, the conspirators have actually taken a step towards making it a reality. The Overt Act MUST come after the Agreement we have been talking about. Once the Overt Act occurs, the crime of Conspiracy is “complete” and can be charged under Title 18 U.S.C. § 371. It’s important to understand that the crime of Conspiracy does NOT merge with the substantive offense, so can be charged separately from the substantive offense.

M. What are the advantages to using the Conspiracy statute?

J. Another advantage for law enforcement is based on the theory of vicarious liability. Participants in a conspiracy become criminally responsible for the reasonably foreseeable acts of any co-conspirators committed during the Conspiracy and in furtherance of the Conspiracy. In the case of Pinkerton v. United States, 328 U.S. 640 (1946)), the US Supreme Court ruled that all members of a conspiracy can be charged for crimes committed by their co- conspirators that are within the scope of the conspiracy and are a reasonably foreseeable consequences of the conspiracy. The benefit of this is that all reasonably foreseeable criminal acts committed by any of the co-conspirators, and reasonably related to the Conspiracy, can be introduced at trial. This is true even though those on trial may not have directly participated in the acts. In addition, statements made by co-conspirators during and in furtherance of a conspiracy are not considered to be hearsay, so can be used at trial against other members of the Conspiracy.

M. Based on what you have said so far, does this mean that a person must be in the Conspiracy from its beginning to be charged with Conspiracy?

J. No. The law recognizes that an individual may join an on-going conspiracy. We call this a “late joiner.” If a person joins an on-going conspiracy, there is no requirement for another overt act to be committed, only that the person intentionally join in the agreement. A “late joiner” is criminally responsible for the Conspiracy, and for any reasonable foreseeable criminal acts done by any of the co-conspirators while the “late joiner” is a member of the Conspiracy. In other words, a “late Joiner” would not be criminally responsible for criminal acts by co-conspirators committed prior to his joining the Conspiracy.

M. What if an individual is part of a Conspiracy and wants out...can he withdraw from the Conspiracy?

J. Yes. Just as the law recognizes that a person can join an on-going conspiracy, the law also recognizes that an individual may withdraw from a Conspiracy prior to its completion. Withdrawal from a Conspiracy requires more than simply no longer participating. To withdraw from a Conspiracy, there are two basic requirements: First – the person must do some affirmative act inconsistent with the goals of the Conspiracy. Unless the co-conspirator can demonstrate that he quit the Conspiracy, his or her participation in the Conspiracy is presumed to continue. Second – the co-conspirator must do some affirmative act that is reasonably calculated to communicate to a fellow co-conspirator, or law enforcement, that he has withdrawn from the Conspiracy. Withdrawal from a Conspiracy is an affirmative defense that must be raised and proven by the defendant.

M. Well, it certainly sounds as though the general Conspiracy statute offers investigators and prosecutors some very important advantages for combating criminal activities.

J. That is absolutely true Michelle. By utilizing the general Conspiracy statute found at Title 18, USC § 371, law enforcement can begin investigating criminal activity in its early stages, and may prosecute BEFORE the underlying crime takes place. In addition, prosecutors may be able to charge defendants simultaneously and present evidence against all the participants in the Conspiracy.
 

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I changed my mind. I'm not going to rip the tags off of my new pillows. :D

I find the fact you ever even considered it to be quite concerning.... :A Naughty:

:A Shades:
 

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