A Woodside man was sentenced in the Lone Star State on Wednesday for illegally trafficking parts of endangered African lions and tigers into the United States.
Arongkron “Paul” Malasukum, 42, pleaded guilty in federal court in Texas to a one count wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act. He was sentenced on Aug. 1 to nine months in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release.
“Today’s sentencing is another positive result from the Justice Department’s continued partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in fighting the menace of illegal trade in protected wildlife,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood. “Those who scheme and plot to criminally profit from the exploitation of these creatures will be brought to justice, as the defendant in this case has now learned.”
According to charges, Malasukum admitted to meeting with undercover agents, who were working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and purchasing a tiger skull from the agents. Malasukum also admitted to purchasing lion skulls from an auction house in Texas through the undercover agents, who were acting as “straw buyers” for Malasukum.
Malasukum then provided the agents with cash and directed them on which items to bid and ultimately win. After making the purchases, Malasukum shipped the tiger and lion skulls from Texas to his home in Woodside. From New York, Malasukum shipped the skulls to Thailand to sell to a wholesale buyer.
Malasukum also admitted that, between April 9, 2015 and June 29, 2016, he purchased and exported 68 packages containing skulls, claws, and parts from endangered and protected species, valued at $150,000, from the United States to Thailand.