A Metuchen man was sentenced on July 2 to six months home confinement and four years’ probation for illegally smuggling wildlife into New Jersey.
Wlodzimie Lapkiewicz, 30, a/k/a Wlodek Lapkiewicz, of Metuchen, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to an information charging him with one count of smuggling wildlife, according to information provided by U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. Sheridan imposed the sentence in Trenton federal court.
According to the documents filed in the case and statements made in court, between July 2015 and July 2018, Lapkiewicz illegally imported and exported scorpions, giant millipedes, and other invertebrate species, conduct which Lapkiewicz acknowledged is commonly referred to as “brown-boxing.” On multiple occasions, Lapkiewicz imported emperor and dictator scorpions, both of which are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty as protected species, according to the statement.
Postal inspectors learned of Lapkiewicz’s illegal imports after live scorpions and giant millipedes escaped from an international parcel while in transit to Lapkiewicz in July 2015. The investigation revealed that Lapkiewicz participated and assisted others in intentionally mislabeling parcels of live wildlife to avoid detection. The investigation also revealed that Lapkiewicz utilized social media to arrange buyers for the scorpions, giant millipedes, and other invertebrates that he had illegally imported, according to the statement.
Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Honora Gordon, with the investigation leading to these charges.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Barnes of the Criminal Division in Newark.