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International Primate Protection League's

'Air France Baby Monkeys' Campaign

Read about indictments and guilty pleas in the case! Click here

In April and May 1997 two shipments each consisting of over 250 monkeys from Indonesia reached O'Hare Airport, Chicago, USA. The shipments, flown by Air France, were cleared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) despite what this agency admitted to be "suspicious circumstances."

Soon afterwards IPPL received a tip-off that there were baby monkeys in the shipments. U.S. law prohibits importation of unweaned baby mammals. IPPL obtained proof that baby monkeys were present in the shipments and requested that USFWS investigate.

The shipping documents obtained by IPPL show that many baby monkeys as young as 3-4 weeks old were shipped from the Indonesian firm Inquatex to the consignee LABS of Virginia, a monkey breeding firm in South Carolina, USA which supplies monkeys to biomedical research facilities. Click here to read 'Inside the Monkey Farm', an article about LABS of Virginia...

To date, no charges have been brought against those responsible for shipping the baby monkeys, though there is more than ample evidence to determine culpability.

Demand Justice for the Baby Monkeys

It is crucial that as many professional, well-written letters as possible be sent to the U.S. Attorney handling the 'Air France Baby Monkeys Case'. Please consider taking just a few minutes to fax or mail a letter to U.S. Attorney Scott R. Lassar requesting that this case be pursued seriously. Your letter need not be detailed, as long as you explain that you wish to see justice brought on behalf of the baby monkeys.

It is important to make sure the United States government enforces the laws intending to protect wildlife.  With a case like the 'Air France Baby Monkeys' -- with documented admittances of guilt on the part of the perpetrators but (to date) no prosecutions -- can you imagine how seriously the government agencies investigate cases of illegal animal shipments, or smuggling which are dubious or tainted with shades of gray?

This is a wonderful opportunity to speak up for the animals who depend on our voices.  We can illustrate to the government that the lives of animals are important and that we do not stand by idly when laws intending to protect these sentient beings are ignored. 

Address your letter(s) to

Patrick Fitzgerald, United States Attorney
Northern District of Illinois

Appended below is a letter AESOP-Project sent via facsimile and surface mail.

Three page facsimile
[Hard copy original sent same date via certified letter]

Tuesday, 6 March 2001

Scott R. Lassar, United States Attorney
Northern District of Illinois
219 S. Dearborn Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL  60604

Subject:  'Air France Baby Monkeys' Case

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald,

It has been brought to my attention that you are the United States Attorney handling what is referred to as the 'Air France Baby Monkeys' case.  I am writing to request a status update regarding this case, and also to highlight some points which I think are important in determining culpability.

As I am sure you are aware, in April and May 1997, two separate shipments of monkeys (each comprised of over 250 monkeys) from CV Inquatex in Indonesia reached O'Hare Airport, Chicago, USA. Both shipments were cleared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service despite what they admitted to be "suspicious circumstances."  Soon afterwards, a not-for-profit organization, International Primate Protection League [IPPL] received information from an anonymous source that there were infant monkeys present in these shipments.  IPPL formally requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Law Enforcement investigate the matter.

Clearly, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (Sec. 14.105 Title 50, Subchapter B, Part 14, Subpart J) prohibits the import of unweaned baby mammals; however, the shipping documents reflect that baby monkeys as young as 3-4 weeks were shipped from CV Inquatex to the consignee L.A.B.S. of Virginia, a monkey breeding firm in Yemassee, South Carolina, USA.

As a matter of record, the presence of infant monkeys and pregnant females in the shipment was known well in advance by the management of L.A.B.S. of Virginia.  The Indonesian dealer Agus Darmawan, owner of CV Inquatex, sent a telefax (cover sheet reproduced below) to Patrick Mehlman, who was at the time Director of L.A.B.S. of Virginia.  Darmawan writes:

                          TELEFAX MESSAGE

To LABS of Virginia Inc.
From Agus Darmawan
Date March 25, 1997
No. of page 6 including the cover page

Our Ref. 075/97

Dear Dr. Mehlman,

         This is to inform you that I plan to ship the second shipment contain of 253 heads cynos on April 8 to Atlanta if confirmed by Air  France. Please rush contact AF at your end.

         Attached I am supplying you the invoice No. 003/04/97 and the lists of the cynos for the shipment.

         In this shipment there are some monkeys that are pregnant in first stage and as well as mothers with unweaned infant. For me it is OK. However I want you to make a statement of full responsibility just in case any things happen with the shipment, such as abortion or death of the baby, and as the result:



         If you insist to make this shipment, it will be completely at your risk.

         Looking forward to your prompt response.

My best regard,
Agus Darmawan

--------- End of Darmawan TeleFax Reproduction --------

The document reproduced immediately above (cover page only) is Plaintiff's Exhibit 8 in the Mehlman/Lilly vs L.A.B.S. of Virginia lawsuit filed in Hampton County, South Carolina. 

Further supporting the notion that key officials of L.A.B.S. of Virginia had advance knowledge that the expected shipments of monkeys from CV Inquatex were in violation of the law is Plaintiff's Exhibit 52 in the Mehlman/Lilly vs  L.A.B.S. of Virginia lawsuit. 

Exhibit 52 is a memorandum from Director of L.A.B.S. of Virginia, Patrick Mehlman to David Taub who was at the time President of L.A.B.S. of Virginia.

In the memorandum dated 27 April 1997, Mehlman writes to Taub: "Just wanted to make sure that you ended up with a copy of the memo from Agus Darmawan dated March 25, 1997, in which he asks me to write a letter of full responsibility.  I do not feel authorized to write such a letter and I defer to you and management to respond to this request."

In March of 2000, IPPL requested that its members write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the 'Air France Baby Monkeys' case since no action had been taken by the agency in over three years since its inception.

Following below is an excerpt from a response to a letter by the Humane Education Network in Menlo Park, California from Kevin Adams, Chief of the Division of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

"We can, of course, appreciate  your organization's frustration with the apparent lack of progress in what may, on the surface, appear to be an "open and shut" case.  The investigation of unlawful primate importations,  however, is a difficult and complex task, and wildlife crimes are not always a priority for other components of our legal system."

Mr. Fitzgerald, with only one year remaining before the statute of limitations for this case runs out, I feel obliged to ask if indeed this is considered "an open and shut case" and despite Adams' assertions, I would appreciate receiving confirmation from your office that wildlife crimes are properly prioritized in our legal system.  With very few laws to protect animals, I shall hope that the few laws which do exist are enforced to the extent that the law allows.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you would like copies of the originals of the court exhibits referenced in this letter, or copies of other exhibits from the Mehlman/Lilly lawsuit which may assist you in prosecuting this case to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Thank you in advance for your time and prompt reply,


For more information on the 'Air France Baby Monkeys' case, please visit these links on IPPL's website



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