ROTA FRUIT BAT SMUGGLER TAKES PLEA BARGAIN

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Manglona to help authorities, avoids prison

By Brett Kelman ROTA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March, 1, 2011) – A man who has admitted he smuggled an endangered fruit bat to Guam in January has offered to divulge information about poaching in Rota in return for being sentenced to no prison time.

Luis Mendiola Manglona, a Rota resident, signed a proposed plea agreement, admitting to the federal crime of taking an endangered species, which has been filed in the District Court of Guam.

[PIR editor's note: in March 2011, three men were charged with trespassing and poaching a breeding colony of fruit bats on Rota. Two were charged with unlawful possession, while one was charged with unlawful taking of an endangered species.]

According to the proposed plea agreement, Manglona admits he killed an endangered fruit bat in Rota, then attempted to sneak it into Guam on Jan. 6. He was apprehended at the airport.

The crime could carry a sentence of up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, but Manglona has offered to cooperate with federal agents who are investigating Rota bat poaching - if he is sentenced to only one year of probation and a $1,000 fine.

The proposed plea agreement won't be official until approved by a federal judge, but Manglona, his attorney and federal prosecutors have signed it.

Manglona was set to go to trial next Monday.

[PIR editor's note: US Fish and Wildlife declared more than 6,000 acres of land in 2004 on Rota as a critical habitat for three endangered Marianas species: the Mariana crow; the Mariana fruit bat; and the Guam kingfisher.]

Mariana fruit bats are an endangered species in the region. Guam populations have been so devastated that only a small handful remains in the wild. The bats are more common in Rota, but still protected. Poaching is a common problem.

Despite federal laws, the meat of these fruit bats, called fanihi in Chamorro, is considered a delicacy in the region.

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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