Celebrity fashion designer arrested for allegedly smuggling crocodile handbags into US

According to Colombian prosecutors, a well-known fashion designer was detained in her native nation and is now facing extradition to the United States for allegedly smuggling crocodile handbags into the country.

The allegations against Nancy Gonzalez, who was detained in her native Colombian city of Cali, carry a maximum 25-year prison sentence as well as a $500,000 fine. The price of the purses in designer shops in the US and Europe can reach $10,000.

Gonzalez created accessories that were worn by famous people and the cast of the television show “Sex and the City.”

Some crocodile skins can be sold legally, albeit the necessary certificate might be expensive and challenging to acquire.

Nancy Gonzalez was detained in her native Colombian city of Cali and is now being prosecuted in the Southern District of Florida.

Gonzalez allegedly smuggled hundreds of handbags by bribing passengers to transport them in their own luggage on flights to the United States, according to U.S. and Colombian investigators. If they were questioned by customs officials, she advised them to claim that the bags were presents for their families.

Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that up to 12 persons, each with four handbags, boarded a single trip to the United States in 2019. Gonzalez paid for all of the round-trip airline tickets.

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Gonzalez first made belts before switching to selling handbags in 1998 after a designer store executive persuaded her to create a range. Bergdorf Goodman, a prestigious department store, hosted her American art debut.

Additionally, in 2008, a display of her art was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

According to reports, celebrities including Salma Hayek, Victoria Beckham, and Britney Spears have bought Gonzalez’s handbags. It’s still unknown if the purses belonging to these celebrities were among those reportedly brought into the country illegally.

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