BARBOUR COUNTY, Ala (WDHN) — A 53-year-old Eufaula man and a Georgia Doctor turned themselves in to Atlanta authorities this week after attorneys unsealed an indictment accusing the men of smuggling taxidermied birds and eggs into the country.

Dr. John Waldrop of Columbus, Georgia, and Toney Jones of Eufaula are charged with several counts of conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States, violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and money laundering conspiracy.

According to the United States Department of Justice, an indictment unsealed on Wednesday, October 11, alleges that between 2016 and 2020, Dr. Waldrop and Jones used online sites like eBay and Etsy to buy hundreds of taxidermied bird mounts and thousands of live eggs from approximately 11 countries, importing and collecting protected avian species such as canary, dipper, duck, eagle, falcon, grouse, gull, hawk, heron, hoopoe, kestrel, kinglet, lapwing, murre, owl, parrot, pochard, rail, teal, snipe, spoonbill, vulture and woodpecker.  

U.S. attorneys say Dr. Waldrop and Jones physically imported three packages through John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2020 containing a Levant sparrowhawk, a grasshopper buzzard-hawk, two gull eggs, two murre eggs, and one unidentified bird egg.

As alleged, Waldrop and Jones made requests to wildlife dealers for particular bird species, including species that were protected under CITES and the MBTA. In turn, those dealers notified Waldrop and Jones when a bird of that species had been killed and was available for purchase. Waldrop and Jones also communicated regularly with dealers about new birds available for purchase. The estimated value of the wildlife purchased, transported, imported and possessed by the defendants was at least $1.2 million.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of 779 bird mounts and 2,594 eggs alleged to have been illegally imported into the United States.

United States Department of Justice Eastern District of New York

The final count of the indictment, money laundering conspiracy, alleges that Dr. Waldrop and Jones conspired to send funds out of the United States to finance the smuggling operation, attorneys say.

A release from the United States Department of Justice Eastern District of New York states Dr. Waldrop and Jones surrendered themselves to authorities in Atlanta Wednesday morning after the indictments were unsealed. The men are expected to be arraigned via teleconference in a Brooklyn federal court on Monday, October 16.

Dr. Waldrop and Jones could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

This investigation highlights the immense pressure illegal trade places on imperiled bird species around the world, and the Service’s commitment to upholding laws and treaties that prevent the exploitation of foreign and domestic species. We hope this indictment sends a clear message that our investigators will work tirelessly to seek justice for poached wildlife.

Assistant Director Edward Grace of the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement