Sculptor: Prison for wildlife trafficking

March 4, 2012 at 12:49 PM
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MIAMI, March 4 (UPI) -- A Miami artist who combines stuffed wildlife carcasses into sculpture was sentenced in federal court for trafficking in illegal and threatened wildlife.

Enrique Gomez De Molina was sentenced in Friday in Miami to 20 months in prison. He also has to pay a $6,000 fine.

De Molina's art, called weird and beautiful by some, featured cobbled together carcasses, horns, beaks, fur, skulls, skins and other body parts of protected animals imported from China and Bali to create mashup scuptures selling for as much as $80,000, The Miami Herald said.

Prosecutors said the artist tried to stay under the radar while he imported orangutan skulls, stuffed rare Himalayan birds and 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.

De Molina's Miami attorney Ben Kuehne said the artist was "extremely remorseful and apologetic," while fully acknowledging his actions which were opposite to what he meant to express with his art: that humans menace the rich diversity of wildlife.

"In promoting that message, he fell grievously from doing things the right way and became one of the very people he tried to educate," Kuehne said.

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