Pa. couples accused of trading in bear gall bladders, paws through nail salon network
One of two Cumberland County couples charged with allegedly buying and selling bear gall bladders, paws and a porcupine to an undercover officer during a sting operation is in court today, according to a report from The Patriot-News.
Investigators said that after receiving a tip, an officer visited the Nail Care salon in Marysville on Nov. 15 and discussed the bear parts trade with someone named Wendy, later identified as Van Thi Do, 43. Do allegedly called the officer back to say her husband, later identified as Hung Quoc Pham, 50, was interested in purchasing a bear gall bladder, which, according to the paper, can be purchased for $100 to $150, processed into a powder form, and resold for medicinal purposes in some Asian communities for between $5,000 and $10,000.
The investigator reportedly returned to the salon the next day and spoke to a man named Bill, later identified as Pham, and sold Pham and Do a bear gall bladder for $110, according to court documents obtained by The Patriot-News.
The husband of the second couple, Bruce Dinh Le, 46, allegedly called an investigator on Dec. 29 to discuss buying bear gall bladders, arranging to meet him at the Nail Touch Salon in Lemoyne on Jan. 5, where his wife, Tuyet “Amy” Le, 43, paid the officer $100 for a bear gall bladder, according to the documents.
Do, Pham and the Les allegedly continued to buy bear gall bladders from the officer on several occasions until July 31, with the former couple also accused of buying bear paws, bear meat and a dead porcupine. At times, the two couples conspired in their dealings, according to the paper. Le reportedly asked the officer to preserve the gall bladders in vodka because she preferred to purchase them fresh.
The Les were arrested July 31 after arranging to meet an investigator at a hotel, where they reportedly came in a minivan with two children inside and bought seven dried gall bladders for $600. They were arrested and charged with illegally selling game, which carries a fine up to $15,000 and a prison sentence of up to 36 months. They are currently free on $100,000 bail each.
Pham and Do were charged with illegally buying game. They’re set to appear in court for their preliminary hearing this morning.