Florida busts 2 Fort Myers men in turtle trafficking ring

Photo courtesy of FWC/Flickr

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the arrest of two Fort Myers men suspected of involvement in a turtle trafficking ring.

The FWC announced the arrests of Michael Boesenberg, 39, and Michael Clemons, 23, in a news conference Friday.

Boesenberg allegedly directed turtle trappers to collect the animals “in large numbers,” the FWC said, then sold them to a buyer connected to Asian markets. He was charged with dealing in stolen property as an organizer.

Evidence from an investigation showed that turtles were sold for up to $300 each and retailed as much as $10,000 in Asia. Occasionally, sellers traded turtles for marijuana instead of cash.

The undercover investigation began when the FWC received a tip in February 2018. It determined that more than 4,000 turtles were illegally poached and sold on the black market over a six-month period.

The variety of turtles poached included Florida box turtles, Eastern box turtles, striped mud turtles, Florida mud turtles, chicken turtles, Florida softshell turtles, Gulf Coast spiny softshell turtles, spotted turtles and diamondback terrapins, the FWC said.

Together, the suspects allegedly contributed to the illegal wildlife trade in the United States, which the International Fund for Animal Welfare estimates is worth $19 billion annually.

Source: UPI

By Ted

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