orangutan skull
An orangutan skull seized from Adam Bied. Credit: DOJ

Massachusetts Man Arrested for Trafficking Skulls of Lions, Tigers, and Bears—Oh My!

Federal authorities said Adam Bied illegally smuggled parts of protected wildlife into the U.S. and seized more than 100 parts.

Federal authorities arrested a Massachusetts man for illegally importing wildlife parts into the U.S. According to last week's announcement, 39-year-old Adam Bied has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to smuggle goods and three counts of the Lacey Act, which prohibits trafficking wildlife.

Prosecutors say Bied bought and sold wildlife parts between January 2018 and June 2021. They allege that he'd order items from sellers in Cameroon and Indonesia who could acquire and kill wildlife, including endangered and protected species. Then, he'd resell or trade the items to customers in the U.S.

In a statement, Joshua S. Levy, the acting U.S. attorney, called the practice of illegally trafficking wildlife "a grave offense" that threatens conservation efforts around the world. "Mr. Bied's alleged conduct reflects a blatant disregard for the laws in place to safeguard our planet's biodiversity," Levy said. "These laws and international treaties exist to protect endangered species from exploitation and to maintain ecological balance."

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The list of forfeited wildlife parts

In addition to filing criminal charges, Levy explained that authorities also seized more than 100 wildlife parts, including orangutan skulls, tiger skulls, jaguar skin, and other protected species, from Bied's home and a storage unit.

"This forfeiture action sends a clear message that we will not only prosecute those who engage in illegal wildlife trafficking, but also take legal actions to strip them of their ill-gotten gains," Levy said.

tiger skulls

Tiger skulls seized from Adam Bied. Credit: DOJ

whale tooth

A whale's tooth seized from Adam Bied. Credit: DOJ

The parts that Bied allegedly trafficked include:

  • Orangutan skulls;
  • Tiger skulls;
  • Leopard skin, skulls and claw;
  • Jaguar skin and skull;
  • African lion skulls;
  • Polar bear skull;
  • Narwhal tusk;
  • Otter skeleton;
  • Harp seal skull;
  • South American fur seal skull;
  • Elephant seal skull;
  • Babirusa skulls;
  • Mandrillus skulls;
  • Wallaby skull; and
  • Jackal skull.

Prosecutors argue that some of the animal parts Bied collected had protections under the Endangered Species Act as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). With that said, trade involving any protected species is subject to heavy regulation

If convicted, Bied could face up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.