Posts Tagged ‘Shellshock’

Operation Shellshock and The Lizard King

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

I am honored to learn this weekend that the Operation Shellshock investigating team and prosecutors all read The Lizard King in the run up to last week’s bust.  I am sure Special Agent Bepler would be pleased his story was with his former colleagues.  My thanks to DEC Lt. Dick Thomas, Capt. Michael Van Durme, Inv. Dan Sullivan,  Capt. Joe Schneider, Tom Hudak,  Al Breisch, and others.  I am also pleased to finally know the name of the New York DEC investigator with Chip Bepler that day he and Sam LiBrandi took down the barn owl poacher.  It was Major Scott Florence, whose work with Bepler resulted in one of my favorite lines in the book (p. 80):  “You did what?” the prosecutor asked.  “You arrested a guy for selling you an owl?!”

Operation Shellshock: Look Familiar?

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Operation Shellshock is making the rounds.  From the NYT.

Reptile Smugglers Are Arrested, Authorities Say

(New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)
In New York, 17 people were charged with 14 felonies as part of Operation Shellshock, a reptile smuggling bust by state environmental authorities.

The smugglers moved their goods across borders using secret compartments, a Maryland meat processing plant and the help of a corrupt Louisiana turtle farm. Their lucrative product: rattlesnakes, snapping turtles and salamanders.

This was the portrait of a trade in illegal reptiles and amphibians that New York State environmental authorities painted on Thursday, when the two-year undercover investigation called Operation Shellshock
ended with criminal charges against 18 people. More charges were made by American and Canadian and officials in other states, the New York officials said.  

The case had the familiar ring of a drug bust, but it was instead built in the unlikely world of herpetological shows and included charges against leaders at organizations like the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society, the Long Island Herpetological Society, and the pet Web site (a Florida-based company facing New York charges)…  Read the rest of the NYT story

Here is Canada’s Press Release.

 Following is the NY State DEC Press Release:

 For Release: IMMEDIATE                                                                                                                              


DEC’s In-Depth Undercover Investigation Nets 18 Arrests
             An extensive undercover investigation into the poaching, smuggling and illegal sale of protected reptiles and amphibians by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has led to charges against 18 individuals for 14 felonies, 11 misdemeanors and dozens of violations, DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.
             The investigation, dubbed “Operation Shellshock,” uncovered a lucrative, international black market for poaching and selling native, protected New York species – turtles, rattlesnakes and salamanders – through the Internet and at herpetological shows, Commissioner Grannis said. Investigators found thousands of New York turtles being laundered through “middlemen” in other states, then getting shipped overseas for meat and other uses…  More with Photos.