FWC uses Internet to bust bogus reptile dealers
Friday, January 28, 2011
Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459
Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) are using the Internet to bust
wildlife law violators. In separate cases made this month in St.
Lucie County, FWC investigators charged two people with unlawfully
selling or possessing reptiles. The FWC formed the Internet Crimes
Unit (ICU) last year to target offenders who are using cyberspace
to unlawfully harvest or commercialize Florida's natural
The most recent regional ICU case was made on Jan.
25. FWC investigators went undercover to respond to a Craigslist ad
for an American alligator for sale. Investigators met the seller
and agreed on a price of $100 for the live, 18-inch alligator.
Investigators subsequently charged Jason D. Gerrish
(DOB 06/09/80) of Port St. Lucie with the illegal possession of an
American alligator, a misdemeanor. It is illegal to possess an
alligator or sell it without the proper permits from the FWC. The
alligator was seized and is in FWC custody.
In another ICU case made earlier this month, the
FWC received information about an Internet reptile dealer suspected
of selling without the proper licenses and permits. Investigators
visited the Jungle Shadows website and discovered the dealer was
attempting to sell king snakes, ball pythons and boas.
Investigators discovered the identity and location of the reptile
dealer and performed an on-site inspection and determined the
dealer was operating without the proper licenses and permits.
Jody A. Pieper (DOB 06/13/77) of Fort Pierce was
charged with the unlawful sale of wildlife, a misdemeanor. His
permit to exhibit and sell was not current; in fact, it had expired
"By creating the ICU, the FWC recognizes the
Internet is an avenue with endless possibilities for fish and
wildlife law violators," said Lt. Chris Harris, with the FWC's
Division of Law Enforcement. "Our officers are not limited to
patrolling the woods and waters to protect our resources; we're
To report a wildlife law violation, call the FWC's
Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 (FWCC). Callers may remain
anonymous and could be eligible for a reward if their information
leads to an arrest.