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.

  FWC uncovers major alligator violations in long-term covert investigation FWC stock photo
FWC uncovers major alligator violations in long-term covert investigation FWC stock photo

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

  • One felony count of Racketeering.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering.
  • One felony count of Scheme to Defraud.
  • Fourteen felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Alligator Eggs/Alligators.

Robert Thomas Beasley (DOB 02/05/1979) of Arcadia

  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering.
  • Six felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Alligator Eggs/Alligators.

David Wentworth Nellis (DOB 10/10/1943) of Punta Gorda

  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering.
  • One felony count of Uttering a Forged Instrument.
  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligator Eggs.

Carl Wayne Pickle Jr. (DOB 12/22/1969) of Arcadia

  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering.
  • Four felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Alligator Eggs/Alligators.

Wayne Andrew Nichols (DOB 07/15/1975) of Arcadia

  • Three felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Unlawful Killing of White Ibis.
  • One first-degree misdemeanor count of Attempting to Take White Ibis.

Christopher Lee Briscall (DOB 01/28/1995) of Fort Denaud

  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in Stolen Property.

Matthew Edward Evors (DOB 10/20/1992) of Cape Coral

  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in Stolen Property.

Isaiah Joseph Romano (DOB 12/17/1994) of Fort Denaud

  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in Stolen Property.

Jacob Oliver Bustin-Pitts (DOB 11/11/1993) of Fort Denaud

  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in Stolen Property.

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