Florida’s ‘Lizard King’ Charged in Turtle Trafficking Ring
LESSONS NEVER LEARNED
A Florida man with a previous track record of illegal animal smuggling has been arrested for plotting to smuggle illegally harvested turtles to China and Japan, per the Associated Press. Michael Van Nostrand—who became known as the “Lizard King” after a 2008 book detailing his illicit reptile business (and 1998 prison stint) was published—allegedly used a network of “collectors” to obtain wild fresh-water turtles and sell them. They then falsely marketed them as being bred in captivity, according to court records. He was charged with conspiring to illegally traffic wildlife and, if convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and a fine of at least $250,000. His company, Strictly Reptiles Inc., faces a fine of $500,000.
Florida banned catching turtles for commercial sale in 2009.