TRENTON – A Middlesex County man has been sentenced to six months home confinement and four years’ probation for illegally smuggling scorpions and other wildlife into New Jersey, announced US Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Wlodzimie Lapkiewicz, 30, of Metuchen, also known as “Wlodek Lapkiewicz,” previously pleaded guilty to one count of smuggling wildlife. Lapkiewicz was sentenced on July 2.
According to court records, Lapkiewicz illegally imported and exported scorpions, giant millipedes, and other invertebrate species in the state between July 2015 and July 2018. This practice is commonly referred to as “brown-boxing.”
A few times Lapkiewicz even imported Emperor and Dictator Scorpions, both of which are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty as protected species.
It wasn’t until live scorpions and giant millipedes escaped from an international parcel while in transit to Lapkiewicz in July 2015 that postal inspectors caught wind of his illegal activity.
An investigation discovered that Lapkiewicz intentionally mislabeled parcels of live wildlife to avoid detection and used social media to arrange buyers for the illegal imports.