SF art dealer sentenced for role in selling endangered rhinoceros horns

A San Francisco art dealer was sentenced in federal court in Las Vegas today to one year and two days for his role in selling two horns from an endangered Black Rhinoceros for $55,000.

Lumsden Quan, 47, was arrested in a Las Vegas hotel room on March 19, 2014, after selling the horns to an undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent who was posing as a Colorado wildlife collector.

The Black Rhinoceros, found in eastern and central Africa, is imperiled by poachers who kill the animal to sell its horns on the black market. It is listed as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. 

Quan pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas in August to one count of conspiring to violate the federal Lacey and Endangered Species acts and one count of violating the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act prohibits the sale of wildlife that was transported across state lines in violation of federal law.

Quan was given the prison term by Navarro, who also ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine, refrain from working in the art and antique business for three years and remain on three years of supervised release after serving his sentence.

A codefendant, Edward Levine, 64, of Mill Valley, is charged with the same two counts and is scheduled to go on trial in Navarro's court on March 7.

An affidavit filed in the case last year by Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Vance Jurgens alleged that Quan and Levine acted as agents for the seller of the horns, who lived in San Francisco. Quan allegedly arranged for the seller to drive the horns to Las Vegas while Quan and Levine flew there. Quan then conducted the sale to the undercover agent.

Quan was arrested as part of Operation Crash, an effort by Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Justice Department and other agencies to crack down on illegal trafficking of rhinoceros horns.

A rhinoceros herd is called a crash.

The Justice Department said that as of November, more than 20 people have been prosecuted and sentenced under the program.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement,

"Illegal trafficking in rhino horn threatens to reverse decades of rhino conservation work in Africa and Asia, driving rhinos to the brink of extinction in the wild.

"Today's sentencing demonstrates that the United States takes wildlife trafficking very seriously and we will do everything possible to identify and disrupt smuggling operations and hold perpetrators responsible,"
Ashe said.