MIAMI (NEWSnet/AP) — Fashion designer Nancy Gonzalez was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison, after pleading guilty in Miami federal court on charges of smuggling crocodile handbags from Colombia.

Gonzalez was arrested in 2022 in Cali, Colombia, and extradited to the U.S. for running a conspiracy that involved recruiting couriers to transport handbags on commercial flights to showrooms and fashion events. It violated U.S. wildlife law.

All the hides were from caiman and pythons bred in captivity. On some occasions, she failed to obtain the proper import authorization from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, required under an international treaty governing the trade in endangered and threatened wildlife species.

Prosecutors had been seeking a sentence of 30 to 37 months. But Judge Robert Scola said he took into account the nearly 14 months she spent at a Colombia prison awaiting extradition. Gonzalez, who has been free on bond under confinement at her daughter’s home in Miami, must surrender June 6 to begin her sentence.

Although trade in the skins used by Gonzalez is not prohibited, they came from protected wildlife that requires monitoring under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known by its initials as CITES.

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