Colombian Celebrity Designer Extradited to U.S. for Using Illegal Exotic Leathers
Celebrity fashion designer Nancy González has been extradited to the United States from her home country of Colombia.
The 78-year-old designer was arrested in July 2022 for allegedly smuggling purses made from the skins of protected or endangered animals, including pythons and caimans, which are part of the alligator family. More than 200 purses were imported and sold in the U.S.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), individuals were paid to transport the illegal handbags with them on commercial flights from Colombia to the U.S. and told to lie to airport officials if asked about the products.
ABC reports that González was extradited to the U.S. with her business partner Diego Mauricio Rodriguez. If González is found guilty, she faces a 25-year prison term and a $500,000 fine.
Authorities allege that González was involved in a conspiracy to “clandestinely import into the United States from Colombia products produced from protected species of wildlife, in violation of federal law, thereby enriching themselves upon the sale of the contraband products in the United States.”
González’s website is no longer active, but when it was, it said that her purses were handcrafted by a team of artisans in Cali, a city 300 miles southwest of Bogotá.
Some of her products were sold at more than 300 high-end retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. They have also been exhibited in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and were featured in Sex and the City. Some of Nancy González’s celebrity clients include Salma Hayek, Britney Spears, Kris Jenner, and Victoria Beckham.