(KTXL) — A Galt man is facing a possible 20-year sentence for working with a Pakistani individual to smuggle into the United States a Ladakh urial, an endangered sheep, according to the Department of Justice.
Jason Keith Bruce, 49, of Galt and Pir Danish Ali, 43, of Pakistan, face charges of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, to make false statements and to smuggle goods into the United States, the DOJ said in a news release Friday after Bruce’s arrest.
Bruce is also charged with smuggling and violating the Endangered Species Act.
According to the DOJ, Bruce, a big game hunter, met Ali, the CEO of a hunting outfitter and guide company based in Pakistan.
In February 2016, the two men allegedly began to draw up plans to hunt a Ladakh urial, an endangered wild sheep, in Pakistan, and bring back to the United States the resulting “trophy,” the whole animal or part of the animal that is prepared for display.
According to the DOJ, Ali is said to have informed Bruce before the hunt that there were around 180 of wild sheep in the local population, and that Bruce paid Ali $50,000 for the hunt.
The DOJ also says that the two individuals agreed that they would need to declare to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the animal was a different species, and that they would have to present forged documents allegedly from Pakistani authorities.
Bruce returned on March 29, 2018, at the San Francisco International Airport carrying eight trophies in his personal baggage, including the Ladakh urial, according to the DOJ.
Customs and Border Protection agents stopped Bruce and called in agents from the Fish and Wildlife Service, who seized the Ladakh urial trophy.
The DOJ said that, after seizing the trophy, Bruce and Ali “conspired together to lie and did in fact lie to the FWS agents.”
The DOJ also said that an investigation revealed that at least 25 hunters who hunted with Ali’s company forged documents to import at least 97 hunting trophies into the United States between 2013 and 2018.
“If convicted of the conspiracy, Pir and Bruce face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine,” the DOJ statement reads.
“If convicted of the smuggling charge, Bruce faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and if convicted of the violation of the Endangered Species Act, Bruce faces a prison term of up to one year and a fine of up to $50,000 or both,” the statement continues.