‘Operation Viper’: 8 arrested in illegal snake trafficking rings in Florida - FaunaClassifieds
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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 01-13-2023, 09:52 PM   #1
Donald C
‘Operation Viper’: 8 arrested in illegal snake trafficking rings in Florida

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/lo...ficking-rings/
 
Old 01-13-2023, 11:01 PM   #2
Beyond GenetiX
Definitely not the news the hobby needs.
 
Old 01-13-2023, 11:12 PM   #3
Socratic Monologue
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyond GenetiX View Post
Definitely not the news the hobby needs.
Agreed.

Text from above link in case the page disappears:

‘Operation Viper:’ 8 people arrested in illegal Florida snake trafficking rings
Venomous snakes posed threat to Florida’s native wildlife

Eight people were arrested Thursday, accused of taking part in an illegal venomous snake trafficking ring in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The agency said it began investigating a black market in 2020 that dealt in illegal and highly dangerous venomous reptiles in Florida. If the animals were to escape, they could have a severe impact on Florida’s native wildlife, FWC stated.

“Some of these snakes are among the most dangerous in the world,” FWC Maj. Randy Bowlin said. “Florida’s rules and laws are in place to protect the public and prevent tragedies from occurring.”

Investigators said they discovered that some of those involved in the trade were importing large shipments of nonnative venomous snakes from countries around the world.

Undercover officers arranged in-person meet-ups for these black-market deals, allowing law enforcement agents were able to capture violators, FWC said.

“Some of the individuals apprehended by this operation are established dealers of snakes,” FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto said. “Our law enforcement officers will continue to hold accountable those who disregard the rules, which protect our natural resources of the state.”

According to the agency, black-market dealers often launder illegally procured snakes through a properly permitted facility to sell the animals without providing information on their real place of origin.

“During the investigation, officers saw and heard disturbing evidence of widespread illegal activity, not the least of which were individuals who indicated that they were releasing or planning to release prohibited reptiles into nearby native habitat to establish a readily accessible wild breeding population,” Investigations Section Capt. Van Burrow said.

Wildlife trafficking ranks fourth behind drugs, weapons and humans in global black market dealings, FWC officials stated. The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates illicit wildlife trafficking brings in between $7.8 billion and $10 billion per year.

Those facing charges in these arrests are as follows.

Delvin Sasnett, 32, of Eagle Lake faces charges of:

Possession of American Alligator
Child Neglect
Possession of prohibited species
Possession of venomous reptile without a permit
Possession of captive wildlife without a permit
Possession of threatened species
Unsafe conditions
Illegal harvest of freshwater turtles
Caging and biosecurity
No enclosure label (prohibited species)
No critical incident plan
No or incomplete records for wildlife
Transfer of prohibited species to/from unlicensed person
Improper primary enclosure for venomous reptile
Improper secondary enclosure for venomous reptile
No bite protocol
Improper caging of Class 2 wildlife
Transporting turtle eggs
Feeding alligators

William Agee, 32, of Holly Hill faces charges of:

Possession of firearm by convicted felon
Transportation/sale/possession of cannabis
Illegal possession of ammunition
Sale of venomous reptile to unlicensed person
Possession of venomous reptile by unlicensed person
Illegal transportation of venomous reptiles
Illegal transportation of venomous reptiles
Illegal transportation of venomous reptiles
Purchase of prohibited species from unlicensed person

Dylan Levin, 30, of Palm Beach Gardens faces charges of:

Sale of controlled substance
Sale of venomous reptile to unpermitted individual
Improper venomous reptile records

Edward Bays, 25, of Southwest Ranches faces charges of:

Possession of prohibited species
Release of nonnative wildlife
Transportation of prohibited species
Transfer of prohibited species to/from unlicensed person
Transporting wildlife in unsafe manner

Jorge Gonzalez, 23, of Miami faces charges of:

Possession of prohibited species
Purchase of wildlife from unlicensed person
Transfer of prohibited species to/from unlicensed person
No safety entrance for prohibited species
No escape proof room
No enclosure label (prohibited species)
No enclosure label (name/PIT #)
Solicitation/Attempted Solicitation

Paul Miller, 48, of Cape Coral faces charges of:

Cage or secondary containment
Unsafe or unsanitary conditions for captive wildlife
Improper cage labeling
Cage or secondary containment

Joseph Switalski, Jr., 37, of Plantation faces charges of:

Sale of venomous reptile to unlicensed person
Improper caging of venomous reptiles
Improper cage identification
Improper secondary containment for captive wildlife
No enclosure label (venomous)
Possession of venomous reptiles at unlicensed location
Purchase of venomous reptiles from unlicensed person

Timothy Gould, 38, of Central City, Pennsylvania, faces charges of:

No import permit
Sale or transfer to unlicensed person
Improper labeling
Improper caging
Possession of venomous reptile without a permit
No bite protocol
 
Old 01-15-2023, 12:47 PM   #4
bcr229
Article with more backstory and info about the charges:

https://content.govdelivery.com/acco...letins/342b6a3
 

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