FWC cracks down on illegal Internet sales
As I See It
Thursday, August 05, 2010
In our technologically advanced society, we have a
lot of advantages and conveniences. Unfortunately, technological
advancements can also provide an avenue for law violators. Online
businesses that deal in the wildlife trade are an increasing
concern for Florida's law enforcement agencies.
With merely a laptop, garage and mailbox, anyone
can open a business dealing in Florida's wildlife. These
businesses could be exchanging dangerous species, such as
conditional snakes and lizards, or venomous reptiles, which are a
serious public-safety concern. Also, if released into the wild,
these nonnative species can pose a threat to indigenous wildlife.
The Internet needs to be monitored to protect Florida's natural
resources from exploitation.
Fortunately, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(FWC) is aware of this issue and has an effective tool on its side:
the Internet Crimes Unit.
The unit, a part of the FWC's Division of Law
Enforcement, is experiencing tremendous success. In the past six
months, seven hard-working undercover officers have made 151
arrests and issued 51 warnings through covert Internet operations.
This technique is one of the latest evolving technologies to combat
illegal captive wildlife sales.
Legitimate businesses that follow FWC captive
wildlife regulations are safe for the public and the environment.
However, the FWC has uncovered many illegal businesses throughout
the state. The presence of these illegal businesses undermines
legitimate companies. Legal wildlife trade businesses obtain the
appropriate permits from the FWC and operate safely, and these
businesses are the ones with the right to operate in this
The Internet Crimes Unit uses investigative
measures that supplement our traditional face-to-face efforts.
These online methods are effective in enhancing public safety,
continuing conservation efforts, combating invasive species and
ensuring fair business practices.
One case in Central Florida has even led to
investigations into six other states. The case involves a
particularly large illegal import/export business that was shut
down last year. FWC investigators are continuing to examine it, and
six people have been charged with 121 criminal violations so
The FWC remains active in its conservation efforts.
Its Division of Law Enforcement is not only able to react to
conservation issues, but, through efforts like the Internet Crimes
Unit, it is protecting Florida's future by pursuing proactive
measures. The Internet Crimes Unit is actively working to protect
our state by tracking down Internet crimes at their source.
You can also help the FWC in its conservation
endeavors. To report wildlife law violations, visit
MyFWC.com/Violation or call 888-404-FWCC (3922).