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Alligator poaching investigation leads to arrests of nine Southwest Florida men

Over 10,000 illegally harvested eggs documented
9 arrested in alligator poaching investigation
9 arrested in alligator poaching investigation
Posted at 2:39 PM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 06:51:27-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. -- A several-year-long investigation by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has led to the arrest of nine Southwest Florida men on charges related to illegal wildlife violations.

These violations of Florida’s laws pertain to possession of American alligator, alligator egg harvesting, interstate transport of alligator eggs and hatchlings, falsifying official records, dealing in stolen property, conspiracy to commit racketeering, racketeering and other wildlife violations. These serious charges include first-, second- and third-degree felonies.

FWC undercover officers managed to become part of the alligator farming community to gain information and evidence about poachers who were breaking the law in regard to the FWC’s public and private lands alligator egg harvesting program and alligator farming.

During the course of the investigation, FWC undercover officers documented numerous criminal violations, resulting in the arrest of nine individuals for 44 felony violations.

Investigators documented over 10,000 illegally harvested eggs during the course of the undercover operation.

“Many of these suspects were part of a criminal conspiracy,” said Maj. Grant Burton, head of the FWC’s Investigations Section. “Their crimes pose serious environmental and economic consequences. These suspects not only damage Florida’s valuable natural resources, they also harm law-abiding business owners by operating black markets that undermine the legal process.”

There are aspects of this investigation that are still ongoing, and the FWC expects more arrests to be forthcoming.

The public can help by reporting suspected violations to the FWC. To make a report, call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@MyFWC.com.

The suspects and their charges are as follows:

Robert Kelly Albritton, 36, of Arcadia

  • One felony count of Racketeering.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering.    
  • One felony count of Scheme to Defraud.
  • Fourteen felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Alligator Eggs/Alligators.

Robert Thomas Beasley, 38, of Arcadia

  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering.
  • Six felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Alligator Eggs/Alligators.

David Wentworth Nellis, 73, of Punta Gorda

  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering.
  • One felony count of Uttering a Forged Instrument.
  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligator Eggs.

Carl Wayne Pickle Jr., 47, of Arcadia

  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering.
  • Four felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Alligator Eggs/Alligators.

Wayne Andrew Nichols, 41, of Arcadia

  • Three felony counts of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Unlawful Killing of White Ibis.
  • One first-degree misdemeanor count of Attempting to Take White Ibis.

Christopher Lee Briscall, 22, of Fort Denaud

  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in Stolen Property.

Matthew Edward Evors, 24, of Cape Coral

  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in Stolen Property.

Isaiah Joseph Romano, 22, of Fort Denaud

  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in Stolen Property.

Jacob Oliver Bustin-Pitts, 23, of Fort Denaud

  • One felony count of Unlawful Possession of Alligators.
  • One felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in Stolen Property.