Pattaya Daily News

11 December 2008 :: 16:12:06 pm 28337

Us Woman Masquerading As Being Pregnant Smuggled Rare Monkey Out Of Thailand

Two US citizens, Gypsy Lawson, 28, and her mother, Fran Ogren, 56, were convicted by a US court in Spokane, Washington, on December 9, 2009, for illegally smuggling a rhesus macaque monkey out of Thailand on a Bangkok-Los Angeles flight on November 28, 2007, violating the US Endangered Species Act and other federal and wildlife laws.
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Gypsy Lawson, from Washington, passed herself off as being pregnant, hiding the animal under a loose-fitting blouse to successfully get the sedated monkey through Los Angeles customs. Ms Gypsy was only discovered to have committed the crime when she boasted to an assistant in a clothes shop of her endeavors and was subsequently arrested.

Damning evidence later found at Gypsy’s home included journals and handwritten notes describing the pairs’ attempts to find a monkey small enough to smuggle back to the United States and their experimentation with several medicines to sedate the monkey for their journey home. An account of the actual smuggling operation was also included in the journal and photos revealing Gypsy’s false pregnancy outfit on the day in question.

Rhesus macaque monkeys are listed as being a protected species with permits and a custom’s declaration being necessary to possess them and many other species of rare animal, neither of which the pair possessed. The monkey is now in an Oregon primate rescue facility.

Lawson and Ogren will be sentenced on two charges on March 3, 2009. The first charge, smuggling, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and the second, conspiracy, a maximum of five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

“These defendants purposely undertook a course of action which could well have endangered many citizens, as well as the life of the animal in question,” said U.S. Attorney James McDevitt. Rhesus monkeys carry dangerous viruses and parasites that can be transmitted to humans.

Not only that, but the monkey could also have endangered passengers’ life on the aircraft, as happened in 2001, when a drugged baboon smuggled on to a passenger jet flying from Sana’a in Yemen to Damascus in Syria recovered and broke loose, causing mayhem until it was recaptured.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : World News

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