An Oregon man pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to violating international and domestic shipping laws for importing and exporting hundreds of live scorpions without a license.
Between Sept. 4, 2017 and March 21, 2018, Darren Dennis Drake, 39, paid hundreds of euros as part of a conspiracy to illegally ship the predatory arachnids between Drake’s home at the time, in Talent, Ore. and addresses in Germany, according to court documents filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Drake failed to obtain the proper licenses from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to federal prosecutors.
On Feb. 23, 2022, Drake was charged with a misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to trade wildlife and plants that have been illegally stolen or sold.
On Sept. 8, 2017, Drake sent 12 live scorpions from Talent to an address in Germany. The scorpions were sent in a box “falsely labeled” as “chocolates,” according to court records.
That package was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, six days later.
On Sept. 12, 2017, Drake received eight scorpions from Germany via the U.S. Postal Service. He also received shipments of scorpions from Texas and Michigan. Then on Dec. 22, 2017, Drake received 200 scorpions from Michigan.
As part of his plea, Drake agreed to a $2,500 fine, two years probation and 250 hours of community service. The charge carries up to one year in prison, three years’ supervised release and a $100,000 fine.
Drake will be sentenced June 22.