Kentucky Ginseng Dealer Sentenced to Pay a $14,000 Fine for Federal Violation
Jim Gale, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, announced today that on September 25, 2007, Lucian Robinson, Jr., 64, (Manchester) was sentenced in United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, in London, for engaging in the interstate commerce of unlawfully purchased wild ginseng, in violation of the Lacey Act. Robinson was sentenced to pay a $14,000 fine and placed on 18 months of probation.
The Lacey Act makes it a Federal violation to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any fish, wildlife or plants, taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any State.
Robinson, a licensed ginseng dealer, admitted as part of a plea agreement that he unlawfully purchased, certified, and/or sold $37,193 worth of wild ginseng between November 2004 and August 2006. The investigation was conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, with the cooperation of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
The wild ginseng trade in Kentucky is a $5 to $8 million industry. Kentucky is the largest supplier of wild ginseng in the United States, averaging approximately 16% of the national harvest annually. The average wholesale value of wild ginseng to a root digger varies between $300 and $500 per pound. The Kentucky ginseng digging season opens August 15th of each year and the selling season opens September 1st. Seasons are established to ensure that ginseng plants reach maturity each year and produce seeds prior to being harvested; thereby ensuring the sustainability of the wild ginseng population.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture implements the ginseng management program in Kentucky, which is required by Federal regulations in order for Kentucky’s ginseng to be eligible for export from the United States. A high percentage of Kentucky’s ginseng is exported to Southeast Asia where it is used in the medicinal trade.
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