May 1, 2009

Justice Dept. Turns Illegal Hardwood Crib Smuggler Every Which Way But Loose


So I had a call into the press office at the Department of Justice today--more on that later, definitely stay tuned--and their crib guy called me back. Only it wasn't the crib guy I was looking for; it was the other crib guy, the one who deals with smuggling of illegally harvested Indonesian hardwood that's been turned into cribs in China.

Seems the DOJ had just announced today that Danny Chien, the president of Style-Craft Furniture Co. and his company both pleaded guilty to one count of smuggling for bringing in a shipping containerful of cribs in 2005 that were made from ramin, an endangered hardwood vital to the habitat of orangutans, which is protected by a treaty known as CITES.

Ramin is especially popular in Chinese-manufactured cribs, and the international non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency has documented a vast ramin smuggling and laundering network operating out of Malaysia.

Chien got 6 months probation, after which the charges will be dismissed; Style-Craft got a $40,000 fine and three years probation. Chien and Style-Craft's case is the first since the Lacey Act took effect, which strengthens enforcement of prohibitions against the smuggling of endangered hardwoods. To be honest, I've never heard of Style-Craft, but I see they have a relationship of some sort with Storkcraft, who I definitely have heard of.

Oh, and this is interesting. In 2007, EIA also investigated the illegal lumber sources of Chinese-made cribs sold at Wal-Mart, tracing them back to Siberian lumber smuggling gangs. The manufacturer of those cribs was Simplicity, so not only did tiger habitats get destroyed to make cheap cribs, the cribs were probably deadly-defective and have all been recalled by now. Awesome.

Chinese Baby Furniture Company Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Internationally Protected Wood []
Environmental Investigation Agency []

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