Limerick man facing charges of wildlife trafficking in US appears before High Court

John Slattery, otherwise known as John Flynn, is accused of committing three offences in the US related to wildlife trafficking, and was remanded in custody to Cloverhill Prison on foot of an extradition request from the United States.

Limerick man facing charges of wildlife trafficking in US appears before High Court

A 30-year-old Irishman, wanted in the United States to face charges of wildlife trafficking, including the horn of endangered rhino species, has appeared before the High Court on foot of an extradition request from police authorities in the US.

John Slattery, who is otherwise known as John Flynn from Old Barrack View, Fairhill, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, is accused of committing three offences in the US related to wildlife trafficking, and was remanded in custody to Cloverhill Prison on foot of an extradition request from the United States.

Slattery, who was represented by barrister Mark Lynam, was arrested in Rathkeale by Sergeant Jim Kirwan of the Garda Extradition Unit and brought before the High Court in Dublin.

Each of three counts with which he is charged carries a maximum of five years imprisonment.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton was told that the horns at the centre of the charges are from the black rhinoceros, which is an endangered species.

The American authorities claim that in September 2010 Slattery and two others travelled from London to a taxidermy shop in Austin, Texas to buy black rhino horns.

Initially, they had been unable to buy the horns because they were not residents of Texas. The following day, it is claimed, they enlisted the help of a Texas resident who acted successfully as their buyer.

Judge Barton heard that it was claimed the trio bought the horns for $18,000. They had then travelled to New York after allegedly altering and falsifying an Endangered Species Bill of Sale in respect of the horns.

It was alleged that the document provided with the horns included a false and fictitious Fish and Wildlife Service emblem to make it seem legitimate.

The men, allegedly including Slattery, sold the horns for $50,000, at the same time providing a modified bill of sale to make it look like the transaction in Texas had been legal.

Shortly afterwards, it was further alleged, Slattery offered the same individual in New York 10 rhinoceros horns for sale.

The court was told that between April 2010 and November 2010 Slattery allegedly bought two further horns from an individual for $10,000.

It was claimed in sworn affidavits opened to the court that in 2010 Slattery and the others travelled to an auction house in Macon, Missouri, where they allegedly obtained a consignment of rhino horns from endangered white and black rhinos.

In early 2011 six of these horns had been sold for $260,000.

Sergeant Jim Kirwan, giving details of Slattery's arrest, said that when he asked if he knew what the matters contained in the warrant were about, Slattery had replied: "I do."

Sgt Kirwan, in reply to Lisa Dempsey, counsel for the Attorney General, told the court that the State was not consenting to Mr Slattery being released on bail.

The court also heard that Slattery holds an Irish passport and in 2015 changed his name by deed poll to John Flynn. Slattery did not speak during the brief hearing which was also attended by members of his family.

His counsel Mr Lynam told the court that his client was not making a bail application at this point of time and that any such application would be "complex."

Mr Justice Barton, on being satisfied that Mr Slattery was the person whose surrender was being sought by the US authorities, remanded Slattery in custody to a date early next month.

Additional reporting by Ray Managh

More in this section