An Inglewood man was sentenced Thursday to six months under house arrest for smuggling five monitor lizards into the United States — two of which died while they were being shipped.
Gayle Simpson, 34, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Manuel Real to serve three years of federal probation. Simpson pleaded guilty in September to a single federal count of smuggling monitor lizards that were shipped from the Philippines.
“We hope this sentence sends the message that these actions have consequences,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Silber said, adding that the case was one of three involving monitor lizards prosecuted by his office since last winter.
The case against Simpson stems from a package intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection last spring. The package, which was labeled “speakers” and was addressed to Simpson’s son, contained five monitor lizards: three spiny-necked water monitor lizards, one Samar water monitor lizard, and one Palawan water monitor lizard, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Two of the monitor lizards arrived dead, and a third had suffered a crushed foot. All five are protected under CITES, an international agreement which aims to ensure that international trade in wild animal and plant specimens does not threaten their survival.
A subsequent search warrant executed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Simpson’s home resulted in the seizure of four yellow-headed water monitor lizards and two spiny-necked water monitor lizards, prosecutors said.
Silber said the death and injury suffered by the reptiles during shipping illustrates the cruelty of animal smuggling, for which profit is the usual motive. The monitor lizards in the Simpson case were worth an estimated $1,500 to $2,000, authorities said.