Florida Man Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison for Turtle-Smuggling Activities

According to the US Department of Justice, a Florida man pled guilty on Wednesday to charges of attempting to “illegally export thousands of turtles” to other countries.

According to DOJ officials, John Kreatsoulas, 36, of Alva, owned Omni Reptiles, an unregistered Florida business in Lee County, from 2015 until 2021.

“Omni was in the business of domestic and international wholesale trade of wildlife, including protected species of reptiles,” according to a release issued by the Department of Justice.

Florida Man Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison for Turtle-Smuggling Activities

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According to the statement, Kreatsoulas and others seized several types of wild turtles, including Three-Stripe mud turtles.

Omni Reptiles then sent the species to buyers in the United States and other nations, including Germany and Hong Kong, via the Miami International Airport, according to the agency.

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Furthermore, Kreatsoulas “falsified” federal papers associated with the shipments to show that the turtles were captive-bred rather than wild-caught, the DOJ stated.

Kreatsoulas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to trade wildlife and nine counts of fabricating records in violation of the Lacey Act, which forbids the trafficking of unlawfully obtained animals.

The sentencing hearing is planned for May 17 at 1:30 p.m. Kreatsoulas faces up to five years in prison on each count, for a total of 50 years.

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