Bad Move, Pardner

This cowboy traded in the rodeo circuit to join a rhino-horn smuggling ring

December 17, 2014

“[Wade] Steffen is no one's idea of an international trafficker of endangered species. When he showed me around his small home in McHenry, Illinois, a year after the incident, he was wearing blue jeans, a black baseball cap, and a plaid western shirt. He has the kind of build that can withstand being thrown from large animals for a living, but he's mild-mannered and cautious. Still, he's become the poster child for one of the largest rhino-horn smuggling rings ever busted in the U.S. In April, Steffen pled guilty to four counts: conspiracy, smuggling, wildlife trafficking, and money laundering. His sentencing is scheduled for this fall. To hear him tell it, though, he's simply a good old boy who got in over his head buying and selling decades-old rhino horns at auction. 'I just didn't see the harm,' he told me. 'It's not like I flew to Africa and shot one. I hate poachers as much as anybody.'"

—From “Rodeo and Rhino Horns,” David Kushner’s Men’s Journal story about how a former steer wrestler became one of America’s biggest wildlife traffickers


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