Woman arrested at US border for smuggling 18 crocodile skulls and a single sloth

According to the Bangor Daily News, a Montreal woman was arrested at the US-Canada border in Highgate Springs, Vermont, after trying to smuggle the following items into the country:

  • 1 three-toed sloth
  • 18 crocodile skulls and heads
  • 7 crocodile feet
  • 2 horseshoe crabs
  • 30 sea stars
  • 23 raccoon feet
  • 8 African antelope horns
  • 1 human skull "with mounted butterflies"
  • 4 puffer fish
  • 6 six shark jaws

The woman, Vanessa Rondeau, owns a retail store in Montreal called Old Cavern Boutique, which "offers for sale a variety of unique curiosity and oddity items, many composed in whole or in part from wildlife." As the Bennington Banner explains:

Between November 2018 and September 2019, Rondeau sent approximately 30 mail parcels into the United States, declared in a variety of ways, such as "cadre," "art decoration," "big toy," "collectable," "art statue," and "tapis," wrote Bessey.

About the same time, Rondeau entered the United States 18 times, 12 of them between midnight and 2 a.m., wrote Bessey.


Rondeau has been cited with violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits the trafficking of items that come from endangered species.

Under the Endangered Species Act, all wildlife must be declared to the Fish and Wildlife Service upon import into the United States and prior to its export from the United States.

Rondeau was caught following what was essentially a sting operation orchestrated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service involving the sale of polar bear skulls, which will apparently cost you in the range of $700.

Canadian woman arrested at border with 3-toed sloth, crocodile skulls [Bob Audette / Bennington Banner]

Montreal woman arrested at U.S. border trying to transport sloth, crocodile skulls [CBC]

Image: Public Domain via Wallpaper Flare