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Galt man charged with smuggling endangered sheep trophy from Pakistan to California

A Northern California man is accused of conspiring with a Pakistani man to hunt and smuggle an endangered wild sheep from Pakistan to the United States, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento.

Prosecutors allege big game hunter Jason Keith Bruce, 49, of Galt and Pir Danish Ali, a 43-year-old CEO of a Pakistani hunting outfitter and guide company, began their conspiracy to hunt a Ladakh urial in Pakistan and to smuggle the resulting trophy in February 2016.

Bruce hunted as a client of Pir’s company, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Shortly before the hunt, Pir told Bruce a recent survey showed a local population of only 180 of the Ladakh urial.

The Department of Justice said the defendants agreed they would get the trophy to the U.S. by bribery as well as fraudulently telling Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the sheep was another species using forged documents purporting to be issued by Pakistani authorities.

Bruce paid Pir $50,000 for the hunt of the Ladakh urial, according to officials, and Pir shot the animal.

Bruce flew into San Francisco International Airport from Pakistan on March 29, 2018, carrying the Ladakh urial trophy along with seven other trophies in his personal baggage, authorities said. Customs stopped Bruce and alerted federal wildlife officials, who seized the trophy.

Prosecutors said further investigation of the incident revealed that, between 2013 and 2018, at least 25 hunters who had hunted with Pir’s company presented forged documents to import at least 97 hunting trophies into the U.S.

Bruce faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of smuggling with a maximum additional year and $50,000 fine for a charge of violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Both Pir and Bruce face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the conspiracy.