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Jailed: Handbag Queen for Smuggling Crocodile Bags

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  • Fashion designer Nancy Gonzalez has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for smuggling crocodile handbags into the U.S. from Colombia.
  • The 71-year-old, known for her celebrity-endorsed accessories, was arrested in 2022 and later extradited to the U.S. where she was charged with violating U.S. wildlife laws.
  • Despite her defense attorneys arguing for leniency based on her background and remorse, prosecutors painted a picture of a wealthy individual exploiting couriers to illegally import her products into the U.S.

Nancy Gonzalez, renowned handbag designer, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after admitting to smuggling crocodile handbags from Colombia into the United States. This sentencing occurred in a Miami federal court where Gonzalez faced charges of orchestrating a complex smuggling operation in violation of U.S. wildlife laws.

The 71-year-old designer, who was arrested in Cali, Colombia, in 2022 and subsequently extradited to the U.S., was accused of creating a network that utilized couriers to ferry her luxury handbags on commercial flights to exclusive showrooms and major fashion events in New York. In his statements to the court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald compared her to a drug kingpin.

It’s all driven by the money,” Watts-Fitzgerald said. “If you want to deter the conduct, you want the cocaine kingpin, not the person in the field.”

On the defense side, Gonzalez’s attorneys argued for leniency, presenting her as a divorced single mother who rose from making belts on a sewing machine to competing with luxury giants like Dior and Prada. They highlighted her role as a pioneering entrepreneur in Colombia’s fashion industry, pointing out that her company, which primarily employed women, went bankrupt and ceased operations following her arrest.

During her sentencing, Gonzalez expressed remorse for her violation of U.S. regulations and tearfully apologized for her actions. She stressed that it was never her intention to disrespect the U.S., a country she greatly appreciated.

However, prosecutors painted a starkly contrasting image of Gonzalez, portraying her as an individual who amassed significant wealth whilst exploiting couriers to introduce her illegal products into the U.S. “Her mission turned into producing felons,” Watts-Fitzgerald stated. “She tried to rewrite the law for herself, to do it her way.”

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Despite prosecutors calling for a sentence of up to 37 months, Judge Robert Scola reduced the term, taking into consideration the 14 months Gonzalez had already served under harsh conditions in Colombia. Gonzalez is scheduled to begin her sentence on June 6.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Temper

    April 26, 2024 at 7:12 pm

    Interesting they can find someone smuggling in alligator skins and prosecute her, but they just can’t seem to find the ones smuggling in Children and losing the whereabouts of 85,000 of them🤔

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