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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 01-01-2019, 11:12 PM   #1
BobO'Booey
International turtle smuggling

I wonder if those Yucatan and Mexican box turtles that were for sale on here previously are affiliated with this group of characters and part of this smuggling operation? Any of these folks members here?
http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Guil...muggling-Case/
 
Old 01-01-2019, 11:47 PM   #2
bcr229
Quote:
The smuggling took place over a period of about 6 months in 2016 and involved multiple individuals who worked together to coordinate the scheme. The latest individual to plead guilty relating to this case, William Thomas Gangemi, says he collected the turtles for the leader of the turtle smuggling group who shipped them out of the US. They were intercepted at JFK International Airport in New York. The reptiles were shipped through the United States Postal Service, being hidden in things like candy wrappers, socks, and shipped in boxes labeled as "snacks." Shipping reptiles when done properly, poses little to no harm to the animals, but when done neglectfully, it likely stresses them out. Shipping endangered reptiles over state and international lines usually requires permits because of the Endangered Species Act, and it is very important to follow the legal rules when purchasing any endangered species.
Yes he is a member and there are multiple posts about him in the Board of Inquiry.

Also thank you for posting this article; it's an update to http://www.faunaclassifieds.com/foru...d.php?t=661074.
 
Old 01-02-2019, 02:03 AM   #3
BobO'Booey
It was more of a rhetorical question, I'm interested to know if the box turtles offered by Riddle tortoises are from this operation.... I'll never understand why some will risk so much for so little. Perhaps anyone involved with this case or knowledge of it will shed some light on it. Maybe a fresh referral to FWS of "Mr. Riddle" and his postings here and on kingsnake might help
 
Old 01-03-2019, 11:52 AM   #4
dieselfan
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobO'Booey View Post
I wonder if those Yucatan and Mexican box turtles that were for sale on here previously are affiliated with this group of characters and part of this smuggling operation? Any of these folks members here?
http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Guil...muggling-Case/
I don’t not think that the guy in Texas with the Mexican species you mentioned is affiliated with the international smuggling group in the article. You can find the guy fairly easily on FB. His family and friends are located along both sides of the US/ Mexican boarder. I actually spoke with the guy about getting some of his group of Yucatán box turtles but the information he gave me was not convincing. He was willing to ship me any of the animals I wanted before receiving any payment. I forgot what he told me regarding the origin of the turtles. Something along the lines of he acquired a large established group of these Mexican species when he bought out someone’s collection. Interesting enough he would not give me the name of the person he claimed to have bought them from.
 
Old 01-03-2019, 12:57 PM   #5
Robert Walker
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobO'Booey View Post

The link appears to have expired or the article has been removed. Here is a copy of it:
Guilty Plea in International Turtle Smuggling Case

December 28, 2018
By Rebekah Pettit




shutterstock/tiffanyquinn

The Illegal Reptile Market

The illegal wildlife trade is one of the greatest pressures on endangered turtles and tortoises. This group is facing the most declines out of any of the endangered reptiles, and these crimes hurt their populations. These animals are sought after in the black market as "pets" and bushmeat delicacies. In the wild, over 50% of the turtle and tortoise species alive today are listed as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered.
Illegal Turtle Smuggling Conspiracy

It was released on December 20, 2018 that a 26 year old man in New Jersey pled guilty to a Wildlife Conspiracy case dating back to 2016, a case connected to other individuals, states, and countries. This verdict successes the guilty verdicts of several other individuals related to this case, and awaits final sentencing. The smuggling conspiracy group was illegally importing endangered turtles from China, while illegally shipping endangered turtles out of the United States. It is not yet specified which turtle species these were, but they were distributed between the US and Hong Kong back and forth according to news reports. Endangered turtles frequently smuggled out of the US include the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina),
shutterstock/Dimitriospippis
The Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina carolina,
is one of the most frequently attempted smuggled turtle species from the US

Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), and the Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri). This investigation was being led by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
The smuggling took place over a period of about 6 months in 2016 and involved multiple individuals who worked together to coordinate the scheme. The latest individual to plead guilty relating to this case, William Thomas Gangemi, says he collected the turtles for the leader of the turtle smuggling group who shipped them out of the US. They were intercepted at JFK International Airport in New York. The reptiles were shipped through the United States Postal Service, being hidden in things like candy wrappers, socks, and shipped in boxes labeled as "snacks." Shipping reptiles when done properly, poses little to no harm to the animals, but when done neglectfully, it likely stresses them out. Shipping endangered reptiles over state and international lines usually requires permits because of the Endangered Species Act, and it is very important to follow the legal rules when purchasing any endangered species.
shutterstock/jayondreika
Florida Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina bauri, is native to the Eastern United States.

According to records, text messages and Facebook messages were used to carry out this reptile crime. The guilty verdict of this one case has a maximum penalty of 5 years in US federal prison. Smuggling endangered reptiles poses a great health risks, while also affecting the laws that are implemented into the state and federal government(s) regarding endangered animal groups. While wildlife criminals exist, conservationists are working hard to combat declines with dedicated efforts. When people commit wildlife crimes like this, get convicted, and spend time incarcerated, this affects the private sector as a whole. It makes it harder for professional conservationists (many of which are private organizations) to be legally permitted and able to function. This can hurt the professional conservationists who want to legally trade, breed, or sell animals for conservation. Simply put, the rules get stricter and less are being approved!
shutterstock/brianekushner
The Diamondback Terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin, is native to the brackish estuary habitats of
the Eastern and Southern US, and Bermuda.


This case is ongoing and no new updates have been released on the health of the turtles or where they are now. The guilty plea of this case was accepted by the state judge and now awaits final conviction.
 
Old 01-03-2019, 01:02 PM   #6
Robert Walker
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieselfan View Post
Interesting enough he would not give me the name of the person he claimed to have bought them from.
His claim, at least to me, was from "a friend Rene Trejo".
 
Old 10-24-2019, 12:48 PM   #7
bcr229
https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndok/pr...ed-box-turtles


Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Oklahoma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Over 1,000 Illegally Collected Box Turtles from Oklahoma

TULSA, Okla. – A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to conspiring with others to purchase, transport and sell more than 1,000 box turtles that were unlawfully collected from the state of Oklahoma, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.

From May 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018, William T. Gangemi, 26, of Freehold, New Jersey, knowingly facilitated the purchase and transport of unlawfully collected three-toed and western (ornate) box turtles from Oklahoma to New Jersey in order to sell them for profit. Gangemi was part of a syndicate of wildlife smugglers where protected turtles were exchanged back and forth between the United States and China.

By smuggling the turtles, Gangemi violated the Lacey Act, a federal law which makes it a felony to engage in the sale or purchase of protected wildlife with a market value in excess of $350 knowing that the wildlife was taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of laws or regulations of any state. In Oklahoma, the collection of both types of box turtles for commercial purposes is against the law. Box turtles reach sexual maturity at approximately 10 years of age and have a high nest and juvenile mortality rate. Due to these factors, the harvest of the turtles can have highly detrimental effects on populations.

“Oklahomans respect and value wildlife, and we don’t appreciate those who would seek to exploit our vulnerable wildlife populations for their corrupt greed. Laws created by Congress to protect wildlife, like the box turtle, will be enforced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Defendant Gangemi flagrantly violated state and federal laws by illegally collecting and exporting box turtles to the black market,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “As a result of the diligent investigative work undertaken by agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Mr. Gangemi must now face the consequences.”

“This case is an excellent example of how state and federal law enforcement agencies work together to combat the illegal wildlife trade," said Phillip Land, a Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We would like to thank the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the U. S. Attorney's Office for their assistance with this case. Together, we can hold traffickers accountable and protect imperiled species for future generations."

As part of his plea agreement, Gangemi agreed to pay $250,000 in restitution to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and a $100,000 fine to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for violation of the Lacey Act. The final restitution and fine amounts will be determined by the Court at the time of sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2020.

Gangemi also pleaded guilty to additional federal charges for trafficking wildlife in South Carolina and New Jersey.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M. Roberts is prosecuting the case.
 

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