Major alligator violations uncovered by FWC!
FWC uncovers major alligator violations in long-term covert investigation!
On Wednesday, May 24, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers arrested nine suspects for violations of Florida’s laws pertaining to possession of American alligator, alligator egg harvesting, interstate transport of alligator eggs and hatchlings, falsifying official records, dealing in stolen property, conspiracy to commit racketeering, racketeering and other wildlife violations. These serious charges include first-, second- and third-degree felonies.
These charges are the result of a multiyear undercover operation initiated in 2015 by the FWC Division of Law Enforcement’s Investigations Section. FWC undercover officers managed to become part of the alligator farming community to gain information and evidence about poachers who were breaking the law in regard to the FWC’s public and private lands alligator egg harvesting program and alligator farming.
During the course of the investigation, FWC undercover officers documented numerous criminal violations, resulting in the arrest of nine individuals for 44 felony violations.
Investigators documented over 10,000 illegally harvested eggs during the course of the undercover operation.
“Many of these suspects were part of a criminal conspiracy,” said Maj. Grant Burton, head of the FWC’s Investigations Section. “Their crimes pose serious environmental and economic consequences. These suspects not only damage Florida’s valuable natural resources, they also harm law-abiding business owners by operating black markets that undermine the legal process.”
Wildlife conservation laws are in place to protect and manage Florida’s precious natural resources for legitimate use by the public. When people break those laws, they jeopardize the ability of the state to manage those resources for the future. If left unchecked, this valuable natural resource could have been severely damaged.
There are aspects of this investigation that are still ongoing, and the FWC expects more arrests to be forthcoming.
The public can help by reporting suspected violations to the FWC. To make a report, call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
The suspects and their charges are as follows:
Robert Kelly Albritton (DOB 01/21/1981) of Arcadia
Robert Thomas Beasley (DOB 02/05/1979) of Arcadia
David Wentworth Nellis (DOB 10/10/1943) of Punta Gorda
Carl Wayne Pickle Jr. (DOB 12/22/1969) of Arcadia
Wayne Andrew Nichols (DOB 07/15/1975) of Arcadia
Christopher Lee Briscall (DOB 01/28/1995) of Fort Denaud
Matthew Edward Evors (DOB 10/20/1992) of Cape Coral
Isaiah Joseph Romano (DOB 12/17/1994) of Fort Denaud
Jacob Oliver Bustin-Pitts (DOB 11/11/1993) of Fort Denaud