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Man pleads guilty to trafficking Galapagos tortoise

Posted: 9:21 AM, Nov 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-09 09:21:33-05
Missing 115-year-old tortoise returned to New Mexico owner

MIAMI (AP) — A Nevada man has been sentenced in South Florida to 120 days of home confinement and ordered to pay a $7,000 fine for trafficking an endangered Galapagos tortoise.

Court records show that 33-year-old Alan Wheelock was sentenced in Miami federal court Thursday after pleading guilty to violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Prosecutors say a K-9 officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission alerted to a parcel at a Miami-area FedEx store in August 2018. The package being shipped to Wheelock in Las Vegas contained a juvenile Galapagos tortoise.

Investigators say Wheelock found a licensed breeder online in central Florida who would only sell to out-of-state customers with the proper permits. Wheelock paid a cousin who was living in Florida, Maurico Perez, to buy the reptile and then send it to Wheelock.

Perez had also been charged but died before his case could go to trial.