A top fashion designer, Nancy Gonzalez has been arrested in her home country of Colombia and faces U.S. extradition for allegedly smuggling crocodile handbags into the United States, according to Colombian prosecutors.
Gonzalez who was arrested in her hometown Cali, Columbia, faces charges in the U.S. Southern District of Florida that could result in up to 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The handbags can sell for up to $10,000 in designer stores in the United States and Europe.
The designer who made accessories that have been used by characters in the “Sex and the City” TV series, as well as other celebrities, is said to have smuggled hundreds of handbags to the United States, by paying airplane passengers to carry them in their personal luggage on flights, telling them that if they were questioned by customs agents, their response should be that the bags were gifts for their relatives.
Although it is legal to sell some crocodile skins, the required certificate can be costly and difficult to obtain.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Investigator said in 2019 that as many as 12 people, each carrying four handbags, boarded a single flight to the United States. The roundtrip plane tickets were all funded by Gonzalez.