March 06, 2012
FL Taxidermy Artist Sentenced to 20 Months for Trafficking in Endangered Wildlife
By Chad Love
You may recall a blog post last November concerning the strange case of Miami "taxidermy artist" Enrique Gomez De Molina, whose specialty is (or was) cobbling together disparate (and, as it turns out, threatened, endangered and highly illegal) animals into the kind of wildlife you'd find only in a Dr. Seuss book.
De Molina was charged last year with numerous wildlife trafficking laws, and at at the time I wondered how long De Molina would suffer--as all good artists must--for his art while in the gentle embrace of the federal prison system. De Molina was sentenced last week, and as it turns out, he's going to have plenty of time to teach his fellow inmates the basics of jailhouse taxidermy.
From this story in the Miami Herald:
Miami sculptor Enrique Gomez De Molina’s menagerie of weird and weirdly beautiful mutant animals had made him an increasingly successful artist. His works, like one called “Rhinoplasty’’ featuring a mounted rhino head covered in peacock feathers and the shimmering green wings of jewel beetles from Thailand, were offered by a prestigious gallery in Wynwood, displayed during Art Basel and sold for up to $80,000. Unfortunately, some of his macabre multi-species mash-ups were cobbled together with the fur and feathers, horns and beaks, skins and skulls of an array of protected animals imported from as far off as Bali and China.
De Molina, 48, was sentenced on Friday in federal court in Miami to 20 months in prison for illegal trafficking in endangered and threatened wildlife. He must also pay a $6,000 fine and be on probation for a year after his release. Prosecutors said De Molina repeatedly tried to evade detection while importing deceased exotics from late 2009 to early 2011, including the thick-beaked craniums of hornbill birds, the skulls of orangutans, a stuffed rare bird called the Himalayan monal, the carcasses of a small Asian primate called a slow loris and assorted other species.
“Trafficking in endangered and threatened species, whether for personal profit or under the guise of art, is illegal,” Wifredo Ferrer, the U.S. attorney in Miami, said in a statement. Ben Kuehne, De Molina’s Miami attorney, said the artist was “extremely remorseful and apologetic” and had fully acknowledged his actions, which ran counter to the message he meant to convey with his art: that humans threaten the rich diversity of wildlife.
So he directly threatened the rich diversity of wildlife by importing said (and dead) wildlife so that he could use said (and dead) make a statement about how humans threaten the rich diversity of wildlife? Uh, yeah. May his cellmate be a three-hundred pound weightlifter named Peaches who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome.