CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A 34-year-old Louisiana man has been
convicted and fined for violating the Lacey Act, announced Acting U.S. Attorney
Abe Martinez along with Acting Assistant Director Edward Grace of the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (FWS).
Byron Paul Pitre pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District
Judge John D. Rainey today. The court then ordered him to serve three
years of probation and pay a $2,500 fine. “Our wildlife and environment are a
precious natural resource that we need to protect,” said Judge Rainey.
"One of the primary objectives of the FWS - Office of
Law Enforcement is to combat the illegal trafficking of wildlife,” said Grace.
“The special agents and federal prosecutors work hard to bring defendants to
justice, and hopefully this case provides a deterrence to others that want to
profit from the illegal sales of protected wildlife.”
The Lacey Act prohibits people from importing, exporting,
transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring or purchasing any fish or wildlife
or plant taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law, treaty
or regulation of the United States or in violation of any tribal law.
During the hearing today, the court heard that in February
2017, Pitre sold and shipped three wild Louisiana box turtles (Terrapene
Carolina) to an undercover agent in Corpus Christi. The sale and
transportation of wild box turtles from Louisiana to Texas is illegal under
Louisiana state law.
In May 2017, agents executed a search warrant at Pitre’s
residence in Louisiana. At that time, he admitted to obtaining turtles
that were unlawfully caught in the wild and selling them to individuals in
Texas, Nevada and New Jersey. Agents also seized more than 230 box
turtles, 119 map turtles, 45 leopard tortoises, 20 Sulcata tortoises and 88
The FWS conducted the investigation. Assistant
U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez prosecuted the case.