Handbag Designer Receives Sentence in Smuggling Case

Handbag Designer Receives Sentence in Smuggling Case

(RepublicanView.org) – Nancy Teresa Gonzalez Barberi, a prolific designer of high-end handbags, has been sentenced for charges related to smuggling.

Gonzalez, 70, will spend 18 months in prison after smuggling exotic handbags into New York. She may also pay a fine as high as $250,000, while her company is looking at a possible $500,000 fine. According to federal prosecutors, the purses were composed of python and caiman skin. Both reptiles are designated as protected species by officials with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Officials from both the United States and Colombia have signed the agreement.

She was originally indicted in April 2022 for charges related to conspiracy and illegally smuggling items into the United States. Authorities said the products were smuggled between 2016 and 2019.

Gonzalez and the design label she founded, Gzuniga Ltd, pleaded guilty to the charges in November 2023. Two others were also charged. Robert Scola, a United States District Court Judge, presided over the case.

The Endangered Species Act doesn’t completely ban the trade of at-risk animals, but it does mandate obtaining a permit from the home country that must also be cleared by the US government when the goods are imported.

Officials say hundreds of purses composed of the endangered species’ skins were imported illegally. They were accused of coercing family, employees, and friends of assisting with their schemes. They were frequently transported on commercial flights in regular luggage. They would eventually be placed on display for sale at a Gzuniga retail location in New York.

Gonzalez and her co-conspirators are all citizens of Colombia. However, they were transported to the United States after Colombia had them extradited for their charges.

Gonzalez’s sentence includes a time-served credit. Her prison time will end with three years of supervised release. Additionally, the government told Gzuniga to forfeit every handbag and is barred from commercial trades involving any wildlife products for three years.

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