Smuggling of Rare Butterflies Doesn't End Well for NY Man

Long Island man who labeled rare insects as 'wall decorations' pleads guilty
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 29, 2024 12:04 PM CST
Guy Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Rare Butterflies
The Etsy page of "LIMMERENTOMOLOGICA" shows four bird-wing specimens for sale.   (Etsy via AP)

A Long Island man has pleaded guilty to illegally trafficking bird-wing butterflies and other rare insects, according to a plea deal filed in Brooklyn federal court. Charles Limmer, 75, of Commack, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to smuggle wildlife into the country and agreed to pay a $30,215 penalty, as well as hand over his collection of roughly 1,000 butterflies, moths, and other insects. He faces up to five years in prison when sentenced, reports the AP. Some of the dried specimens include bird-wing butterflies, which are among the rarest and largest in the world.

Limmer was indicted last year on six counts related to wildlife smuggling, including violations of the federal Lacey Act's prohibitions on falsely labeling and trafficking in wildlife. He could have received a 20-year sentence if convicted at trial. Officials said Limmer circumvented US laws by labeling shipments as "decorative wall coverings," "origami paper craft," and "wall decorations." He sold some of the dried lepidoptera specimens through an eBay account under the name "limmerleps," pocketing tens of thousands of dollars.

Federal prosecutors said Limmer worked with overseas collaborators to smuggle some 1,000 lepidoptera, including some of the most endangered moths and butterflies in the world, even after his import/export license was suspended in October 2022. Federal law prohibits the commercial export or import of wildlife without permission from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. (More weird crimes stories.)

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