Marietta man sentenced for smuggling 150 protected turtles

Marietta man sentenced for smuggling 150 protected turtles
Stock photo of a turtle. (Oleksandra Korobova / Moment / Getty Images)

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A federal judge sentenced Kuo Pin (“Kenny”) Cheng to probation and ordered to pay $10,000 for smuggling protected turtles.

According to investigators, the 56-year-old man from Marietta received at least 28 shipments from Hong Kong containing more than 150 live turtles between Oct. 2018 and Jan. 2019.

Among the turtles Cheng received were multiple protected species, as well as two species of turtles—the Asian Spotted Pond turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii) and Three-Keeled Asian (Melanochelys tricarinata)—that are classified as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

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Cheng attempted to avoid detection by having the shipments labeled as “toys” or “truck” and addressed to fake names. After receiving the turtles, Cheng sold them to other collectors in the United States that he met online.

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“Illegal trafficking in fish and wildlife is big business all over the globe,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak, “Laws protecting endangered species were enacted to preserve our treasures in the wild. We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect endangered wildlife.”

Cheng admitted to earning approximately $40,000 from the sales of the illegally imported turtles.

“This arrest and conviction show what collaboration can achieve to protect threatened and endangered species,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I applaud Service Regional Director Leo Miranda and the office of law enforcement for their collaborative work in leading this effort in conservation of our precious species. We take the business of protecting turtles and other species seriously.”