Three now accused of smuggling animal into U.S.
Contact with witches and pagans is alleged in a newly filed revised indictment accusing a 28-year-old Spokane woman of smuggling a monkey into the United States by appearing pregnant as she passed through U.S. Customs.
Gypsy Lawson, her boyfriend, James Edward Pratt, 33, both of Spokane, and Lawson’s mother, Fran Ogren, 55, of Northport, Wash., are named in the superseding indictment returned Tuesday by a grand jury in Spokane.
The new indictment replaces initial charges filed in March.
All three defendants are now charged with conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States and separate counts of smuggling.
Pratt also is charged with making false statements to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.
The U.S. attorney’s office dropped initial charges of possession and transportation of prohibited wildlife in violation of the Lacey Act against the three defendants.
The new indictment alleges that on Nov. 4, Ogren and Lawson flew from Spokane to Bangkok, Thailand, arriving there on Nov. 6.
After establishing e-mail contact with a man named Boris, the two women traveled with him to several villages “where they finally acquired a young rhesus macaque monkey,” the indictment says.
On Nov. 25, after giving the young monkey sleeping pills to sedate him, the women traveled back to Bangkok by bus.
The following day, the indictment alleges, Ogren sent an e-mail to “NE Washington Witches and Pagans” at a Yahoo account “and asked for last-minute energy” to help them safely smuggle the monkey into the United States.
“The Witches group replied by e-mail ‘consider it done,’ ” the indictment says.
As Ogren and Lawson boarded a plane to leave Thailand, Lawson “concealed the monkey under her shirt, pretending to be pregnant.”
About that same time, they e-mailed Boris at a place called the Thai Horse Farm and “described to him how they were smuggling the money and other items they obtained in Thailand through customs,” the indictment states.
They flew from Thailand to Seoul, South Korea, then to Japan, before flying to Los Angeles, arriving there on Nov. 28, the indictment says.
They passed through the U.S. Customs checkpoint while Lawson concealed the monkey under her shirt, according to the indictment.
After visiting Ogren’s mother and stepfather in California, Ogren and Lawson drove a rental car to Spokane International Airport, where Pratt picked them up, with the monkey.
The day after Christmas, while Pratt and Lawson were visiting the Fashion Bug store in north Spokane, he discussed with witnesses how the monkey was smuggled into the United States, the indictment says. He told a different story, however, on Jan. 3, when he was interviewed by federal agents.
The following week, agents served search warrants, seizing Ogren’s computer at her Stevens County home and the monkey at the north Spokane residence where Lawson and Pratt lived.
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