Paul Neilan, The Irish Times | May 22, 2020
A Limerick man has been extradited to the United States to face allegations of trafficking endangered rhino horns after an early morning arrest by 20 armed gardaí, the High Court has heard.
John Slattery (30), who changed his name to John Flynn by deed poll, of Old Barrack View, Fairhill, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, is accused of three offences of wildlife trafficking in the US.
At Friday’s High Court sitting, Mr Justice Paul Burns heard Mr Slattery had been arrested in the early hours of the morning before the court hearing, even though he was still on bail, and that he was to be taken to a Texas prison.
Mr Slattery’s bail was due to expire on Friday at midnight. It had been granted on condition that he present himself to Henry Street Garda station in Limerick within 24 hours of being notified. His extradition was delayed due to coronavirus.
US authorities allege he and two others travelled to a taxidermy shop in Austin, Texas, to buy the horns for $18,000 (€16,500) and then travelled to New York and sold them for $50,000 (€45,900). It is alleged that between April 2010 and November 2010 Mr Slattery bought two further horns for $10,000 (€9,100).
At Friday’s High Court hearing, counsel for the Minister for Justice, Lisa Dempsey BL, confirmed Mr Slattery had been “surrendered to the US authorities”.
Barrister Mark Lynam, for Mr Slattery, told the court he was “uneasy about how matters have transpired”. “Mr Slattery was taken from his home this morning by, I’m told, 20 armed gardaí,” Mr Lynam said. “He was taken from his home and put on a plane. I’m very surprised it happened that way because Mr Slattery is someone who is in a high-risk category in respect of Covid-19.
“He’s going to a prison in Texas and there’s been a reported 40 deaths in prisons in Texas in the last two weeks,” he said. Ms Dempsey said his case was “dealt with in a manner deemed appropriate” by the Garda.