Woman Gets Probation For Unlawful Sale Of Pangolin Scales

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A woman who illegally imported pangolin scales and sold them to an undercover officer from her Southeast Portland store was sentenced Monday to three years of federal probation.

Agnes Yu, 53, who has owned Wing Ming Herbs with her husband for about 20 years, said the scales are believed to have medicinal properties and used to help promote the production of breast milk.

Yu admitted to ordering the scales from an importer in San Francisco and selling 30 grams of the scales to the officer for $165 in 2017, according to a prosecutor.

Personnel at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory confirmed the scales were from a pangolin, a species of scaled anteater-like mammals endemic to Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Yu pleaded guilty to reckless sale of illegally imported wildlife.

All commercial trafficking in pangolins is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES.

In 2018, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undercover agent purchased from Wing Ming Herbs giant sea horses and fins from scalloped hammerhead sharks protected by the Endangered Species Act, prosecutors said.

The federal agency searched the store with a warrant and seized thousands of additional wildlife items, which Yu agreed to abandon, prosecutors said.

Her husband, Ken Yu, said in court they were never trying to break the law and that they would volunteer to help with needed community education and outreach about the wildlife laws.