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Illegal wildlife trade sting nabs 12 in Calif., Nev.

A rug made out of an endangered tiger was posted for sale on Craigslist for $12,500. Victor Northrop, 48, of Henderson, Nev. allegedly accepted $10,000 for the rug in a sale to an undercover agent. (U.S. Department of Justice)

January 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
An Internet sting dubbed "Operation Cyberwild" netted a dozen people in California and Nevada suspected of selling endangered and protected species.

Undercover agents posed as buyers and answered ads on Craigslist, eBay and other websites to purchase, among other things, rugs made of bear and tiger skins, an elephant foot, a live piranha, a polar bear pelt and numerous other live animals or products made from protected animals.

The sting was a joint operation between California Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, with significant help from volunteers with the Humane Society of United States.

Nine people face federal charges and three face California state charges. If convicted, they could face six months to a year in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

List of suspects and what they allegedly sold:

  • George Lovell, 49, of Las Vegas allegedly sold a pair of Loggerhead sea turtle leather boots for $1,000 on Craigslist.
  • Lisa Naumu, 49, of San Diego allegedly sold an $8,000 leopard skin coat, after placing three of such coats for sale on Craigslist.
  • Victor Northrop, 48, of Henderson, Nev., allegedly sold a rug made out of an endangered tiger on Craigslist. The posting listed the item for $12,500, but Northrop allegedly accepted $10,000 for the rug.
  • Karla Trejo, 42, of Sherman Oaks, allegedly sold a live Western Scrub-Jay for $185 on Craigslist.
  • Dan Tram "Majkah" Huynh, 30, of San Diego allegedly sold an Asian arowana for $2,500 on Craigslist.
  • Henry Dao, 41, of Garden Grove allegedly sold two live Red-whiskered Bulbul birds for $1,750 on a website.
  • Kamipeli Piuleini, 35, of Torrance allegedly sold a Hawksbill sea turtle shell on eBay.
  • Tyler Homesley, 24, of Ramona offered to sell three birds, including a Eurasian kestrel and a Black-shouldered Kite, for $150 on an online advertisement.
  • Alfredo Vazquez, 50, of Montebello allegedly sold an elephant's foot, a mounted hawk and a mounted owl.
  • James I. Colburn, 66, of Leona Valley allegedly sold a bear skin rug.
  • Blake William Diekman, 27, of South Pasadena allegedly sold a live piranha.