POSTED: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 6:52pm
UPDATED: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 4:14pm
Tyler Tx, (KETK) — 63-year-old William Lamar says that he smuggled seven snakes in his jacket from Peru to Miami and from Miami to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
But, before he could board a flight home to Tyler, TSA agents refused to let him step on the plane.
This case is receiving world-wide coverage after a press release was sent out by the U.S........ Attorney's Office.
Both Lamar's lawyer and his friend believe Lamar is being perceived the wrong way .
Lamar is known by his close friends as a serious scientist and a snake expert.
"He's an adjunct professor, he's a publisher of some of the finest books on snakes and reptiles in the world and it's a shame that it had to come to this," said friend Blake Bailey.
He spent a short time as an unpaid adjunct assistant at UT Tyler.
Lamar also has been on National Geographic, The History Channel and other TV programs.
But, now he is facing federal charges for smuggling seven snakes, five of them venomous, in plastic containers in his jacket at DFW.
A press release was sent out on June 18th from the U.S........ Attorney's Office with the headline:
"Smith County Snake Expert Guilty of Smuggling Peruvian Reptiles."
This story went viral across the world.
But Bailey says the public is getting a one-sided report.
"It's turned into something of significant punishment to him over and beyond any judicial or legal procedures that might be taking place. Seems like someone needed to step up and say wait a minute let's tell the other half about Bill Lamar he's an intellectual and a scholar adventurer and a good guy so that part was left out of the press coverage."
Lamar's lawyer, Bobby Mims, would not speak on camera but says Lamar is a serious scientist that "used bad judgment".
Mims says it's devastating that he is being convicted as a felon.
U.S........ Attorney's Press Release:
Smith County Snake Expert Guilty of Smuggling Peruvian Reptiles
TYLER, Texas – A 63-year-old Tyler, Texas eco-tourism guide has pleaded guilty to smuggling live snakes into the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S........ Attorney John M. Bales today.
William Lamar pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with importing wildlife taken in violation of foreign law today before U.S........ Magistrate Judge John D. Love.
According to information presented in court, on Aug. 29, 2012, Lamar imported seven live snakes that he had purchased at a market in Lima, Peru. Lamar smuggled the snakes in his jacket on flights from Lima to Miami, Florida and then to Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport. The next day, after TSA agents refused to let him board a commuter plane to Tyler with the snakes, Lamar traveled aboard a ground transport shuttle from DFW to his home in Tyler. Game Wardens went to Lamar’s residence and seized the snakes.
Peruvian law prohibits the exportation of wild live animals coming from the forest or jungle region unless the exporter has a properly issued ministerial order authorizing the export for either scientific investigation or for cultural diffusion. Lamar admitted that he knew that Peruvian law prohibited the unauthorized exportation of wildlife in a jacket without proper authorization.
Lamar faces up to five years in federal prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case was investigated by the U.S........ Fish and Wildlife Service, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Department of Public Safety. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S........ Attorney Jim Noble.
Public Information Officer/Law Enforcement Coordinator
U.S........ Attorney's Office/Eastern District of Texas
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Response from Blake Bailey (William Lamar's friend):
I have followed the press coverage of Bill Lamar. He has been charged with possession of snakes at DFW. Because of the hook of “Snakes on a plane” it has gotten extensive exposure. Bill is a friend of mine. I know he will not be making excuses. But I do want to attempt to fill in the picture of this guy. I have been on eco-tours guided by his company. He is an excellent guide. There are films of him wrestling crocs and anacondas in the Amazon. He has a graduate degree and served as an Adjunct professor and research professor. He is an author of fifty publications, some published by Cornell University. He has appeared or consulted in films by BBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet Discovery, History Channel etc and has had thousands of photos published. He worked in Colombia as a Peace Corp Volunteer under the Smithsonian Environmental Program. Mainly, he is a good citizen and scientist.