> ok - so im now fascinated with Silva's and Norris' case. Apparently
> they would get fake permits for legal orchids, then ship illegal ones
> with these legit permits? It said on the US department of agriculture's
> website that they even devised a code to determine what these orchids
> were? Does anyone have any further information?
That's why I said this could become a life's work. Its a great story.
To answer your question about how this is done.
If you were to go to any orchid show you'd see orchids for sale, and
mostly they are out of bloom. Yous see just a mass of green plant stuffs.
One out of bloom orchid plant - for the most part - looks like any other
orchid plant of the same variety. The way we tell them apart is by the
tag the vendor puts on the plant. For ease in labelling, vendors will
label their plants by number and have a master list as to what all the
numbers mean. Then when they get to where ever they are going they'll
put a better tag on the plant. So you'll see plants tagged '1167 Soph
cernua' and some just '1167' and you as teh purchaser have to know/ask
what '1167' is. Pretty much this is standard operating procedure, but
to a customs agent or a reporter looking for a story it could look like
Nevertheless, the key to the crime is that one orchid looks pretty much
like another of the same variety when its out of bloom.
So, your cohort (in the country of origin) writes up a bunch of
paperwork saying you two are importing an easy to get plant like
Phragmipedium schlimii (an example only). He gets CITES & USFWS
(endangered species) permits to import Phrag schlimii. The paperwork
says item #123 is Phrag schlimii. But really item #123 is rare, ***
Phrag kovachii (an example only), a plant people would kill for. The
customs agents look over his shipment, sees that a bunch of Phrags are
coming in, but they really have no idea WHAT they are because one out of
bloom phrag looks pretty much like another. You pick up the plants at
the customs house. Your cohort has emailed you the real list, stating
#123 is kovachii. Bada bing! You're in the money. You contact your
friends who you know will want the plants no matter what the cost, and
you laugh all the way to the bank. Unless you are George Norris, who -
according the the feds - never deleted his email or cleaned his hard
drive and they found the trail. Then you wind up in prison. Note:
George wasn't busted for Phrag. kovachii, Selby Gardens and Michael
Kovach were, I just used those species as an example.
I could go on, but its your homework, LOL!!
If you can figure out the OGD's search feature you should be able to
find Norris's own post about how the feds treated him when they served
their search warrant. I thought it was chilling.
You may also be able to find an account of how Eurpoean vendors filled
the back of a pick up truck with illegally collected Phrag kovachiis to
sell in Europe. I guess their customs agents are even worse than ours
at plant identification _ I'm kidding the story is more convoluted than
that, but there's only so much I can write at one time.