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Former OKC Zoo employee pleads guilty to trafficking baby tortoises – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 2021-03-04 14:03:45 –

Oklahoma City (OKC Free Press) — On Wednesday, Joshua Taylor Lucas pleaded guilty to a single count of serious wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act.

Lucas, a former assistant curator of herpetology at Oklahoma City Zoo, committed a trafficking crime of selling an endangered Galapagos elephant while employed at the zoo.

Robert J. Trostar, acting federal prosecutor for the Western District of Oklahoma, announced his decision and decision on Thursday.

Baby turtle

In a joint petition and decision, Judge Bernard Jones of the U.S. District Court accepted the petition, gave Lucas three years of probation, 100 hours of community service, and $ 32,500 in damages to Oklahoma City Zoo. Ordered to pay.

“During his tenure at the zoo, he admitted that he had stolen some of the newly hatched Galapagos tortoises,” Lucas said. “Lucas also admitted that he sold and shipped 21 hatched Galapagos tortoises to Kenneth Warrenhus II (deceased) in Nevada, who had previously been charged with illegal trade in Galapagos tortoises in southern Texas. It was. “

OKC Zoo Statement

“This very rare incident shocked and saddened all the zoo staff and increased their vigilance against the care and conservation of wildlife entrusted to us,” said Candice Rennels of Oklahoma City Zoo. Told the free press.

“Since learning of the theft in March 2020, the zoo has changed its internal control policies, security procedures and records management to control this species to prevent this from happening in the future.”

The OKC Zoo statement was a bit different from the Federal Attorney’s statement on how Lucas obtained the newly hatched baby turtle.

“Mr. Lucas stole the Galapagos tortoise eggs from the OKC Zoo, hatched them, and sold their offspring between April and June 2016.”

Lacey Act

Lucas was indicted in federal court on April 14, 2020 for violating the Lacey Act.

This law imports, exports, or transports fish, wildlife, or plants brought in, owned, transported, or sold in violation of or in violation of US laws, treaties, or regulations. It is prohibited to sell, receive, acquire, or purchase. He also said the announcement of the law of any tribe.

exploitation

“It is unacceptable to exploit and traffick endangered wildlife for personal gain,” said Troester, Deputy US Attorney General. “I commend the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife and the hard work of the prosecutor for his efforts to hold the traffickers of endangered animals in this case accountable.”

Philipland, a special agent for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a law enforcement agency in the Southwestern United States, commented on the conviction.

“This study included the illegal trade in the endangered Galapagos tortoise for exotic pet trade. This iconic species is the largest turtle in the world, with one freshly hatched juvenile. It has a black market value from $ 5,000 per. “

“Our special agents and wildlife inspectors prioritize identifying, investigating and dismantling illegal trafficking networks and introducing individual offenders for prosecution under US law.”


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Former OKC Zoo employee pleads guilty to trafficking baby tortoises Source link Former OKC Zoo employee pleads guilty to trafficking baby tortoises

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