A Commack man has been indicted on charges of conspiring to smuggle wildlife into and out of the US, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
The six-count indictment said that Charles Limmer trafficked numerous deceased specimens of protected butterflies commonly referred to as “birdwings” due to their exceptional size, angular wings and bird-like flight. He was also charged with violations of the Lacey Act, which prohibits on falsely labeling and trafficking in wildlife.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Paul Chapelle, Resident Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Valley Stream Division, announced the charges.
Limmer operated a commercial business (the “Limmer Business”) importing, exporting, purchasing, and selling wildlife, including protected species of butterflies. In 2016, the Limmer Business obtained a license to import and export wildlife from the FWS. The FWS suspended the license in October 2022.
As alleged in the indictment, between October 2022 and September 2023, Limmer illegally imported and exported over $200,000 worth of shipments of deceased wildlife specimens.
Limmer sold the unlawfully imported wildlife on Internet platforms to customers around the world. To conceal the scheme, Limmer directed his co-conspirators to label the shipments of wildlife as “decorative wall coverings,” “origami paper craft” and “wall decorations.” He also noted to one co-conspirator, “Screw USFWS[….] They are a gang of
The indictment also seeks forfeiture of over 1,000 butterflies, moths and other insects alleged to have been illegally trafficked.