Forest Grove man agrees to plea deal in exotic animals importing - KPTV - FOX 12

Forest Grove man agrees to plea deal in exotic animals importing case

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A Forest Grove man is facing federal charges after allegedly smuggling merchandise made from exotic and endangered animals into the United States for resale.

Gary Holstrom is accused of violating the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Investigators say Holstrom admitted to importing items made from the skulls of a variety of species, including Macaque monkeys and orangutans.

An investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began in 2011, after a customs agent found a monkey’s skull in a package addressed to Holstrom.

Federal investigators served a warrant to search Holstrom’s home in 2014, and they say he admitted to importing the items, then selling them on his business website.

Despite the charges, neighbors said Holstrom, who is a veteran, is a good person who may have just made a mistake.

“I know that he was into importing and had a business and worked out of the house some,” neighbor Marta Isakson said. ”They're just really nice people. Very cordial and very helpful. I know they watch the houses around here, and I'm sorry to hear they're in trouble.”

Holstrom agreed to a plea bargain on June 8, under which he will be placed on probation for five years. He will also be fined $25,000.

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