Federal SWAT Raid Over . . . Orchids

Monday, October 5th, 2009

So as it turns out, even the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has its own SWAT team.

You don’t need to know. You can’t know.” That’s what Kathy Norris, a 60-year-old grandmother of eight, was told when she tried to ask court officials why, the day before, federal agents had subjected her home to a furious search.

The agents who spent half a day ransacking Mrs. Norris’ longtime home in Spring, Texas, answered no questions while they emptied file cabinets, pulled books off shelves, rifled through drawers and closets, and threw the contents on the floor.

The six agents, wearing SWAT gear and carrying weapons, were with – get this- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kathy and George Norris lived under the specter of a covert government investigation for almost six months before the government unsealed a secret indictment and revealed why the Fish and Wildlife Service had treated their family home as if it were a training base for suspected terrorists. Orchids.

That’s right. Orchids.

By March 2004, federal prosecutors were well on their way to turning 66-year-old retiree George Norris into an inmate in a federal penitentiary – based on his home-based business of cultivating, importing and selling orchids..

Mr. Norris ended up spending almost two years in prison because he didn’t have the proper paperwork for some of the many orchids he imported. The orchids were all legal – but Mr. Norris and the overseas shippers who had packaged the flowers had failed to properly navigate the many, often irrational, paperwork requirements the U.S. imposed when it implemented an arcane international treaty’s new restrictions on trade in flowers and other flora.

The judge who sentenced Mr. Norris had some advice for him and his wife: “Life sometimes presents us with lemons.” Their job was, yes, to “turn lemons into lemonade.”

Or just wait for the inevitable SWAT team to come and smash them for you.


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7 Responses to “Federal SWAT Raid Over . . . Orchids”

  1. #1 |  SWAT team raids orchid grower for fudging import paperwork | The World Matters | 

    […] Federal SWAT Raid Over . . . Orchids […]

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  4. #4 |  Federal SWAT Raid Over . . . Orchids « Wecogitate | 

    […] Federal SWAT Raid Over . . . Orchids The agents who spent half a day ransacking Mrs. Norris’ longtime home in Spring, Texas, answered no questions while they emptied file cabinets, pulled books off shelves, rifled through drawers and closets, and threw the contents on the floor.   Continue […]

  5. #5 |  Truth: They Are ALL Crazed « Out Of My Mind | 

    […] much for freedom in the greatest nation in the world: Here and here and here (well, the last one’s Texas […]

  6. #6 |  Blawg Review #233 | Popehat | 

    […] of a lawsuit from a government and its army of lawyers. Of course, the sort of government whose Fish & Wildlife Service has its own SWAT team may need plenty of lawyers to go along with all those cops and […]

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    […] the lives of children. We threaten vegetable growers, arrest DIY roofers, and send SWAT teams after orchid importers and raw milk sellers. Our system of law was created to promote justice; now it exists to make […]