Colombian celebrity designer Nancy Gonzalez’s tumble from grace was sudden and stunning: taken in handcuffs from her luxury house in Cali last 7 days to a Bogota jail mobile, accused of smuggling guarded animal pores and skin purses into the United States.
The 77-calendar year-old is now awaiting a ruling by a Colombian choose on irrespective of whether she must be extradited to the United States, exactly where she threats a 25-calendar year jail sentence.
Gonzalez’s purses, clutches and wallets offer for 1000’s of US dollars apiece, have appeared on catwalks and Television set shows and grace the shelves of superior-conclusion shops all over the globe.
But in accordance to an indictment from prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida, dated April 26, more than 200 of the caiman- and python-pores and skin goods bought in the United States have been imported illegally.
Gonzalez and two staff members of her Gzuniga organization, the demand sheet states, conspired to smuggle luggage created of protected animal skins concerning February 2016 and April 2019 with no the allow demanded less than the Convention on Worldwide Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The products had been introduced to the Gzuniga showroom in New York City by the accused for the objective of “enriching themselves on the sale of the contraband items in the United States,” reported the indictment.
Persons were being allegedly paid to deliver the baggage from Colombia to New York on industrial flights, and coached to lie about the provenance of the goods if requested.
Gonzalez and her co-accused facial area a single cost of conspiracy and two counts of smuggling.
According to her web site, Gonzalez’s bags are handcrafted in her indigenous Cali by a team of artisans.
The site says her luggage are bought at above 300 luxury merchants, such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrod’s and Tsum.
Her patterns ended up also showcased in an exhibition by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Amongst Gonzalez’s famous customers are Salma Hayek, Britney Spears and Victoria Beckham, according to specialized portals.
In accordance to the Florida indictment, the animals that provided the skins have been not on the CITES endangered checklist but fell below a classification of species “that experienced to be managed in purchase to avoid utilization incompatible with survival.”
This implies that trade in goods obtained from such an animal necessary a permit, which Gonzalez allegedly failed to attain.
Elmer Montana, a lawyer for one of Gonzalez’s workers, told AFP that the skins utilised to make the bags ended up “received by Nancy Gonzalez… from licensed farms which are supervised by the Ministry of the Setting.
“These are not skins that she buys on the black current market” in one particular of the world’s most biodiverse countries, exactly where reptile trafficking is rife.
Footage released by the Colombian prosecutor’s place of work confirmed the glamorous businesswoman led absent in handcuffs just after a raid on her luxury residence in Cali final week.
A court have to now choose on her extradition to the United States, a course of action that can consider months or even months, according to defense lawyers.
A choose had denied Gonzalez’s request for bail pending a ruling.