Miami, Jan 13 (EFE).- A long three-year investigation concluded with the arrest in Florida of eight people who were charged this Friday with trafficking nearly 200 poisonous and prohibited snakes from different parts of the world, reported the authorities.
The investigation began in 2020, after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) received intelligence reports and complaints warning of the existence in this state of a “black market for the sale of venomous reptiles.” illegal and very dangerous.
The FWC used undercover agents to determine the extent of this black market and catch the offenders, eight of whom were charged today with crimes ranging from “second degree to third degree felonies related to the illegal trafficking of prohibited venomous snakes.” .
In the course of the investigation, FWC undercover detectives “purchased or sold to wildlife traffickers nearly 200 snakes of 24 different species from 7 different regions of the world.”
Among the numerous species of snakes they trafficked are the inland taipan (very venomous, large and native to Australia), various types of viper such as the rhinoceros, African or Gabon viper, the eastern green mamba and multiple species of spitting cobra. , which shoots poison from its fangs.
“The subjects involved showed complete disregard for the regulatory framework designed to keep Floridians safe,” the FWC said.
“Some of these snakes are among the most dangerous in the world,” warned Randy Bowlin, head of the FWC’s intelligence and investigations section and the state’s Department of Law Enforcement (DLE).
Bowlin recalled that “Florida’s rules and laws exist to protect the public and prevent tragedies from occurring.”
The defendants are William Chase Agee, Dylan Isaac Levin, Edward Daniel Baus, Jorge Javier González, Paul Edward Miller, Joseph Switalski, Timothy James Gould and Delvin Eugene Sasnett.
FWC investigators determined that the black market for venomous reptiles in Florida is “robust” and that traffickers move these species “frequently and in large numbers” and with an aggravating factor: “caging, transport and handling regulations are often ignored” by those who traffic.
FWC agents also collected “disturbing evidence” such as confirmation that some people “were releasing or planning to release prohibited reptiles into nearby native habitat to establish an easily accessible wild breeding population,” said Van Barrow, Capt. of the research section. EFE