‘Lizard King’ gets 7 months for trafficking Florida turtles

Apr 20, 2022, 3:22 PM | Updated: 3:45 pm

MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man has been sentenced to seven months in federal prison followed by a year of home confinement for his part in a scheme to smuggle illegally harvested Florida turtles to China, Japan and other places.

Michael Van Nostrand, 55, of Davie, was sentenced Tuesday in Miami federal court, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to illegally traffic wildlife. Van Nostrand also must pay $100,000 to a congressionally authorized fund that pays for the care, treatment and rehabilitation of wildlife. Van Nostrand’s company, Strictly Reptiles Inc., must pay $150,000 to the same fund.

According to court documents, Van Nostrand and others established a network of “collectors” who searched the Florida wilds for certain freshwater turtle specimens, including the three-stripe mud turtle, from April 2017 through April 2019. The collectors and Van Nostrand then falsely labeled the turtles as having been bred in captivity, rather than caught in the wild, prosecutors said.

Florida banned the commercial catch of turtles in 2009. Prosecutors noted in court filings that significant pressure is being placed on native species, especially turtles and tortoises, throughout the United States to satisfy the black market pet trade and that the U.S. is facing the specter of some species becoming extinct in the wild because of illegal poaching activities.

Van Nostrand gained notoriety through “The Lizard King,” a 2008 bestseller that described a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent’s yearslong investigation of his business. He was ultimately sentenced to eight months in prison in 1998 for buying smuggled Argentine boas, tegu lizards and other protected wildlife, and required to pay $250,000 to the World Wildlife Fund.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
4 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
12 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
12 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
19 days ago
A young bison calf stands in a pond with its herd at Bull Hollow, Okla., on Sept. 27, 2022. The cal...
Associated Press

US aims to restore bison herds to Native American lands after near extinction

U.S. officials will work to restore more large bison herds to Native American lands under a Friday order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
19 days ago
(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...
Sponsored Content by OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here's what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
‘Lizard King’ gets 7 months for trafficking Florida turtles