9 arrested in undercover FWC alligator investigation

Photo courtesy FWC.

FLORIDA (WFLA) — Nine people from Florida are facing felony charges for breaking Florida’s alligator laws.

Photo courtesy FWC.

The arrests are the result of a long-term investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The operation began in 2015 when undercover officers became part of the alligator farming community to learn about poachers breaking laws on alligator egg harvesting and alligator farming.

Charges include unlawful possession of alligators, unlawful possession of alligator eggs, conspiracy to commit dealing in stolen property and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Throughout the investigation, officers say they documented more than 10,000 illegally harvested eggs.

The nine people arrested face a total of 44 felonies.

“Many of these suspects were part of a criminal conspiracy,” Maj. Grant Burton, head of the FWC’s Investigations Section, said. “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.”

The suspects have been identified as Robert Kelly Albritton, Robert Thomas Beasley, David Wentworth Nellis, Carl Wayne Pickle Jr., Wayne Andrew Nichols, Christopher Lee Briscall, Matthew Edward Evors, Isaiah Joseph Romano, and Jacob Oliver Bustin-Pitts.

FWC says the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.

Photo courtesy FWC.

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