Wildlife Dealer Facing Charges Related To Illegal Turtle Sales
A Florida wildlife dealer is facing federal charges related to the illegal sale of domestic wildlife to countries like China and Japan. According to a federal indictment, the protected species of turtle was illegally harvested in the wild in Florida through a network of allies. The turtles were then brought to the wildlife dealer where they were mislabeled as being bred in captivity and sold on the Chinese and Japanese markets.
That’s a crime?
In most cases, catching wild animals and then selling them for profit is illegal. However, when you do it to a protected species like Florida’s turtles then you have an even bigger problem. However, the Chinese and Japanese love to eat turtles. After decimating their own turtle population, they have turned to foreign markets to resupply. The problem is so big that it is now devastating America’s population of turtles.
Nonetheless, turtles are considered a delicacy in these markets and Americans can make huge capital illegally harvesting the turtles from the wild and then selling them illegally in these Asian markets.
If convicted, the defendant faces a minimum fine of up to $500,000. While it remains unclear how much money he made from the unlawful turtle trafficking, it is likely not to be more than that. Further, any of the proceeds of the illegal trafficking can be seized meaning that the defendant would not be able to pay the fine from the illegal proceeds. Any purchases made with the illegal proceeds can be seized.
While turtle trafficking won’t land you as much time as human trafficking, the government makes it impossible to unjustly enrich yourself from the illegal business. Not only do they seize all property related to the illegal venture, but they can cloud the title of your home, vehicles, and any other valuable property that can be traced to ill-gotten gains. Then, a fine of $500,000 is attached to the civil forfeiture of your assets, and you end up paying off the remainder of that debt for the rest of your life.
In other words, any potential profit that the business gained from illegally harvesting turtles is likely to turn into a bill for criminal conduct, attorney’s fees, and the loss of assets purchased from illegally gotten money.
To make matters worse, the defendant was engaged in a criminal conspiracy to collect the animals and then forge reports concerning where they came from. So, prison time isn’t out of the question either if the state wants to pursue all possible charges against the defendant.
Talk to a Tampa Federal Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing charges filed by the federal government, the rules of procedure and laws are different than state court. You need a Tampa criminal defense attorney with experience handling federal cases. Call The Matassini Law Firm today, and we can begin discussing your options.