Nine men ranging in age from 22 to 73 were arrested Wednesday on a variety of charges related to poaching alligators and illegally harvesting more than 10,000 alligator eggs.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the arrests of:
▪ Robert Albritton, 36, Arcadia
▪ Robert Beasley, 38, Aracadia
▪ 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
▪ Isaiah Romano, 22, Fort Denaud
“This massive criminal operation dealing in American alligators and their eggs undermines legitimate farmers operating legally,” Bondi said in a press release issued Wednesday. “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 operation.”
Bondi said the arrests followed a “comprehensive investigation into the unlawful commercialization of alligators through alligator farms.”
The FWC established an undercover alligator farming business called “Sunshine Alligator Farm,” in Arcadia. The undercover investigation revealed “substantial numbers” of illegally taken wild alligators and eggs that were removed from the wild and laundered through certain unnamed alligator farms.
“Some of the defendants took undercover officers on alligator hunts and illegally caught and sold alligators,” the press release states.
Charges are pending, but are likely to include racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, scheme to defraud, conspiracy to deal in stolen property and the intentional killing or wounding of an species of special concern.
Bondi’s office reports this investigation is ongoing and “additional arrests are expected.”