Tuesday, October 06, 2009

SWAT team raids orchid grower

Last year I wrote an editorial for The Celator about how ancient coins could be controlled but self-registered to avoid the difficulties of an official government registry. I mentioned the problems of the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty at controlling ivory.

A recent story on problems with CITES for flowers surprised me. An elephant has feelings, but a flower seems like just a flower. Yet the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service takes orchids very seriously:
When 60-year-old Kathy Norris asked court officials why U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's very own SWAT team had raided and ransacked her home, they helpfully explained, “You don't need to know. You can't know.”

George [Norris], along with his business associate Peruvian grower Manuel Arias-Silver, is charged with conspiracy to smuggle endangered phragmipediums (orchids) into the U.S. Since Manuel is one of only three growers to have been given permission by the Peruvian government to artificially propagate the newly discovered phragmipedium Kovachii, it appears that the U.S. government has singled out the pair for special attention over suspicions that this is the species they were smuggling. There appears to be little evidence of this, though it is likely the pair were taking some shortcuts on paperwork because of the challenges of importing other, legally propagated species, into the U.S.
(via bOING bOING)

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

Ed- I walked past Quiznos, a sandwich shop, for lunch in downtown Washington, D.C. today. Out front, finishing up their meal, were two extremely fit guys, in full desert combat kit. Special forces, I thought? Looking closer though, I saw their patches identified them as officers of “Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

I was thinking about asking them if they were on "Iraqi antiquities interdiction duty," but thought better of it. [They might not get the humor!]

In any event, an odd sighting, even though Washington, D.C. has been full of security service personnel since 9/11.

Peter Tompa