News Releases

FWC shuts down illegal Internet operation

News Release

Monday, August 16, 2010

Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585

When the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Internet Crimes Unit received a citizen's complaint that a Tampa man was operating an illegal wildlife business through eBay, it launched an undercover investigation that resulted in the man's arrest.

"After looking into his online activity, investigators found he was selling protected freshwater game fish, mussels and oysters," said Col. Jim Brown, director of the FWC's Division of Law Enforcement. "He had no licenses to sell freshwater or saltwater products."

The man listed 47 pages of items for sale on eBay, including protected species of fish and wildlife. Now he's facing four misdemeanor charges for unlawful sale of freshwater game fish, unlawful sale of freshwater mussels, and for not possessing a freshwater fish dealer's license and a saltwater retail dealer's license. He also received a written warning for unlawful sale of oysters.

In a technologically advanced society, online businesses that deal in the wildlife trade are an increasing concern for Florida's law enforcement agencies. It requires Internet monitoring to protect Florida's natural resources from exploitation.

Fortunately, the FWC's Internet Crimes Unit has had tremendous success at shutting down operations like this one. It is actively working to protect the state by tracking down Internet crimes at their source.

"The Internet Crimes Unit uses investigative measures that supplement traditional face-to-face efforts," Brown said. "These online methods are effective in enhancing public safety, continuing conservation efforts, combating invasive species and ensuring fair business practices."

The public also can help the FWC in its conservation endeavors. To report wildlife law violations, visit or call 888-404-FWCC (3922).

FWC Facts:
The Florida Keys: The word "key" comes from the Spanish word cayo, meaning "little island."

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