Wildlife Poaching Ring Sting Leads to 21 Arrests Around Central Florida

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:55 p.m.

LAKELAND | A Lakeland man was among 21 people from around Central Florida arrested by state wildlife officials following a 22-month investigation of the illegal purchase and sale of fish and wildlife products.

"The suspects were ultimately working together in a criminal conspiracy," said Maj. Curtis Brown, head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Investigations Section.

The 200 criminal violations consisted of various felonies and misdemeanors involved buying products from poachers and unlicensed individuals and shipping thousands of pounds of illegal products to markets out of state.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the out-of-state markets.

The species involved include grouper, snapper, trout, redfish, snook, bass, bream, catfish, deer, turkey, ducks and alligator.

"This was a large-scale illegal poaching operation with serious implications for the environment, economy and public health," Brown said.

The Lakeland man arrested was identified as My Van Vo, 29, who faces five misdemeanor counts.

The other persons arrested were from Orange, Osceola, Lake and St. Lucie counties.

FWC officials said shutting down illegal operations like this also is important for public health because there's no oversight or inspection of these products to protect the public.

"The public has a right to purchase safe, legally harvested products without concern for the safety of their food," Brown said.

Also cooperating in the operation were the National Wild Turkey Federation, Humane Society of the United States and Ducks Un-limited.

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