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Artist Enrique Gomez De Molina Sentenced To Prison For Wildlife Smuggling

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A Miami Beach artist who combines taxidermied animal parts into sculpture was sentenced Friday to 20 months in federal prison for trafficking in endangered and protected wildlife.

Enrique Gomez De Molina, 48, pled guilty in December after authorities accused him of importing without permits or declaration the skins of a Java kingfisher, collared kingfisher, juvenile hawk-eagle, king cobra, pangolin, hornbills, birds of paradise, the skulls of babirusa and orangutans and the carcass remnants of a slow loris and mouse deer. The commercial transaction of several of the animals, such as the slow loris, is illegal altogether.

Prosecutors say from late 2009 through February 2011 De Molina used contacts in Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Canada and China to illegally acquire the animals, some of whom were alive when the sellers sent photos before sale.

His half-grotesque, half-beautiful Frankenstein-like work has been exhibited in Miami galleries and during Art Basel week at the Scope Art Fair, during which at least one was sold and subsequently illegally transported to Canada. [View more of his sculpture here.]

De Molina also received one year's probation, was fined $6,000, and must forfeit all smuggled wildlife in his possession.

"Trafficking in threatened species, whether for personal profit or under the guise of art, is illegal," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. "We will strictly enforce the laws that protect our environment and our wildlife."

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