A squirrel holds a walnut which it found in the autumn leaves in Heiligkreuztal. Thomas Warnack/AP
It was a high-flying scheme that landed with a thud: seven alleged flying squirrel traffickers were arrested in the US state of Florida after capturing thousands of animals worth more than $1 million.
Following a 19-month investigation, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced on Monday it had so far apprehended seven individuals but that additional arrests were forthcoming.
Following a January 2019 complaint, the commission found that up to 3,600 flying squirrels had been caught in 10,000 traps throughout central Florida, the FWC said.
Under the scheme the flying squirrels, which are a protected wild animal in Florida but are sold internationally as pets, were poached, trafficked and laundered before being purchased by South Korean buyers.
The investigation revealed that the Florida-based dealer who purchased the squirrels from poachers and claimed they were born in captivity, earned as much as $213,800 for the animals.
According to the FWC, the flying squirrels, which were collected over the course of less than three years, have an international value of more than $1 million.
Charges for the seven individuals include racketeering, money laundering and scheming to defraud, among other crimes.
“These poachers could have severely damaged Florida’s wildlife populations,” said Major Grant Burton, FWC Investigation’s section leader.
“The concerned citizen who initially reported this activity started an investigation that uncovered a major smuggling operation.”
Flying squirrels weren’t the only victims: The suspects also profited from dealings with other poached animals — protected freshwater turtles and alligators with falsified documents to conceal their origin.
For just the second time in the history of the women’s World Cup, there will be female coaches on both benches for the final as Sarina Wiegman’s Netherlands take on holders the US, coached by Jill Ellis, on Sunday.
It was easy to forget that Coco Gauff is still just 15 as she stood on the grass of Centre Court, pounding her chest and shouting, “Let’s go! Come on!” to celebrate a 32-stroke point that forced a third set
Nikola Jokic tallied 22 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists as the Denver Nuggets clinched the Northwest Division title with a 119-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
The United States has about 700 troops in Somalia focused on helping local forces defeat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency. The mission has received little attention in the United States, but has been considered a cornerstone
Authorities have apprehended, warned and penalised around 700,000 people since March for violating measures such as ignoring physical distancing and not wearing masks, police data shows.
"The approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will add a further important layer to the kingdom's national COVID-19 response," said Mariam Al Jalahma, CEO of the National Health Regulatory Authority...