Illegal Trade In Ontario Species At Risk Results In Jail Term And $4,000 Fine
Case Resulting From Multi-agency Investigation Heard In Hamilton
Emanuele Tesoro of Waterdown has been sentenced to two 90-day sentences in jail to be served concurrently, two years probation and fined $4,000 for violations related to the illegal trade of species at risk.
On October 15, 2008, as a result of an ongoing undercover investigation into the illegal trafficking of species at risk, Tesoro was arrested in the State of New York by U.S. authorities. The investigation disclosed that Tesoro had crossed the Canada/U.S. border illegally transporting a total of 35 Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes and one spotted turtle during two trips taken between May and October 2008. These reptiles had been taken from the wild in Ontario.
Tesoro pleaded guilty to the terms outlined in a global plea agreement and was convicted of offences relating to the illegal capture, possession, transportation and buying and selling of species at risk. These include convictions on:
- Ministry of Natural Resources charges regarding the capture, possession, transportation and buying and selling of Ontario species at risk under the Ontario Endangered Species Act and the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act;
- an Environment Canada charge regarding cross-border trade in timber rattlesnakes under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act; and
- a Canada Border Services Agency charge regarding smuggling under the Customs Act.
Charges against Tesoro by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are still before federal and state courts in the U.S.
'Operation Shellshock' was a joint international investigation into the illegal trade of species at risk between Canada and the United States. The multi-agency investigation was conducted by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources conservation officers, and officers from Environment Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
Justice of the Peace Mitchell Baker heard the case in the Ontario Court of Justice in Hamilton on May 11, 2009.
To report a natural resources violation, call 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free anytime or contact your local ministry office during regular business hours. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).