Well, the verdict is in, and George Norris got jail time:
MIAMI — An orchid dealer was sentenced Wednesday to a year and five months in federal prison for scheming to smuggle prized tropical lady slipper orchids into the United States.
George W. Norris of Spring, Texas, was also sentenced to two years probation. Co-defendant Manuel Arias Silva, a Peruvian orchid grower, pleaded guilty in June and was sentenced in July to a year and nine months in prison.
Norris instructed Arias to ship through south Florida because federal inspectors at Miami International Airport were more lax than their counterparts in Houston, according to papers and e-mails seized in the investigation.
The investigation was based on a tip about Norris offering endangered species for sale on the Internet.
The Peruvian lady slippers are considered seriously endangered in the wild and are protected by international treaty. Nursery-raised varieties can be exported with government permits.
Norris and Arias used invalid permits for the shipments and falsely labeled many of the plants to cover up the lack of a valid permit, prosecutors said.
The forums are silent so far. It would be interesting to know if any new evidence came out of the court proceedings, or if in fact it’s just another example of the American justice system’s overenthusiasm for incarceration. Is there anyone left on the outside in that country? Well, I’m very sorry for Mr. Norris and Mr. Arias. They made a mistake by trying to take some short cuts to get around nonsensical regulations (endangered species? always read the news with a healthy dose of scepticism). I hope the feds are pursuing real poachers with the same enthusiasm.