An Irvine native is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Friday for allegedly violating the U.S. Endangered Species Act by having more than 150 endangered butterflies among 1,000 dried insects in luggage he was bringing into the country.
Alexander Bic, 25, could get up to 20 years in federal prison with a conviction, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana M. Kwok.
The vividly colorful Ornithoptera–or birdwing–butterflies were found by Customs officers on April 7 at Los Angeles International Airport, where Bic and his wife were returning from a trip to Japan, according to federal court documents that do no specify any changes against the Mrs.
The dried and folded 5-inch butterflies from New Guinea were found among eight boxes of dead bugs discovered in Bic's carry-on and checked baggage, the document alleges.
Bic sells pinned and framed insect specimens to customers throughout the world via the Internet, with the endangered birdwings selling for upwards of $100, according to Kwok.
"There are certainly enough collectors (of dried insects) to support an eBay business,'' Kwok told City News Service.