2 Louisiana Men Plead Guilty to Selling Alligator Snapping Turtles in Texas
If you have never seen an Alligator Snapping Turtle in the wild, let me assure you - they are as interesting as they are scary looking. They are often confused with other types of snapping turtles, but are only loosely related to them. They are so named for their rough, ridged, and decidedly gator-like skin - and of course, their immensely powerful jaws.
You would think that with their great looks and friendly demeanor, humans would just leave them be. Unfortunately, they have a unique quality that trumps all of the common sense most of us have to leave these unique creatures alone: To the right buyer, they are extremely valuable.
That leads us to the story of Travis Leger and Rickey Simon of Sulphur, Louisiana. NOLA.com reports these two enterprising gentlemen joined up with Jason Locket of Oklahoma to turn these ugly amphibians into something else green - cold hard cash. It seems this trio of rocket surgeons hatched a plan to catch these slimy little gold mines in the Louisiana wetlands and sell them to collectors in Texas. Profitible? You bet. Stupid? Absolutely. See, the nasty looking (and biting) turtles are threatened in Texas. That means it's illegal to take, capture, transport, or sell them. Combine that with the Louisiana law that prohibits selling or bartering with turtles (for some reason), and you've got yourself an interstate crime ring. The trio allegedly had 30 of these in a pond in Sulphur. Keep in mind that the sale of just one 120-pound specimen was set-up with an undercover federal agent for $1000! The crew was potentially sitting on $30,000 in snapping turtles.
After being arrested (obviously), the three plead guilty to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act when they transported 60+ large alligator snapping turtles for the express purpose of selling them.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents recovered the turtles, and the ugly little Godzillas are currently in a private facility.