Mussel Traffickers to Serve Prison Terms, Pay Restitution

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Mussel Traffickers to Serve Prison Terms, Pay Restitution

From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The shells of U.S. freshwater mussels are sought after for use overseas in cultured pearl production.

Three individuals who were involved in a conspiracy to illegally harvest and export undersized freshwater mussels taken from U.S. rivers have been sentenced to pay $65,000 in restitution and serve Federal prison terms of 12, 20 and 24 months.


The shells of U.S. freshwater mussels are sought after for use overseas in cultured pearl production.
Photo credit: USFWS/Office of Law Enforcement

The three were successfully prosecuted on Lacey Act charges as the result of a multi-year undercover investigation of large-scale mussel trafficking conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. During the case, investigators linked at least 17 individuals to the conspiracy and discovered that as many as 240,000 individual mussels were unlawfully taken, sold and exported to Japan and other countries over a two-year period.

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