Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission today announced nine arrests for illegally harvesting alligators and eggs. Authorities have uncovered more than 10,000 illegally harvested American alligator eggs.
“This massive criminal operation dealing in American alligators and their eggs undermines legitimate farmers operating legally,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I want to thank the FWC for their superb investigative work and look forward to my Office of Statewide Prosecution prosecuting those involved in this reckless illegal operation.”
The arrests follow a comprehensive investigation into the unlawful commercialization of alligators through alligator farms. As part of the investigation, FWC established an undercover alligator farming business, Sunshine Alligator Farm, in Arcadia. The investigation revealed that substantial numbers of illegally taken wild alligators and eggs were being removed from the wild and laundered through certain alligator farms. Some of the defendants took undercover officers on alligator hunts and illegally caught and sold alligators.
Authorities arrested the following defendants in connection to this case:
- Robert Albritton, 36, Arcadia;
- Robert Beasley; 38, Arcadia;
- Christopher Briscall, 22, Fort Denaud;
- Jacob Bustin-Pitts, 23, Fort Denaud;
- Matthew Evors, 24, Fort Denaud;
- David Nellis, 73, Punta Gorda;
- Wayne Nichols, 42, Arcadia;
- Carl Wayne Pickle Jr., 47, Arcadia; and
- Isaiah Romano, 22, Fort Denaud.
All nine of the defendants face charges for the illegal killing, possessing or capturing of alligators or eggs. The defendants face a range of additional serious charges including racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, scheme to defraud, conspiracy to deal in stolen property and the intentional killing or wounding of any species of special concern.
The investigation is still ongoing and additional arrests are expected.