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Press Release

Lee County, Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Smuggle Turtles to Germany and Hong Kong and Falsely Labeling the Turtles on Related Paperwork

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

MIAMI – A Lee County man pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for conspiring to illegally export thousands of turtles to Germany and Hong Kong, and falsifying documents to conceal his conduct. 

John Michael Kreatsoulas, 36, of Alva, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic wildlife and nine counts of falsifying records in violation of the Lacey Act.

According to the factual proffer in support of the plea and other documents included in the court record, from July 2015 to July 2021, Kreatsoulas was the owner and principal of Omni Reptiles, Inc., an unregistered Florida business located in Alva, Florida. Omni was in the business of domestic and international wholesale trade of wildlife, including protected species of reptiles. Kreatsoulas and Omni shipped wildlife they sold to domestic and foreign customers, including to customers in Germany and Hong Kong through Miami International Airport.

Specifically, Kreatsoulas and his co-conspirators collected and captured various species of turtles, including three-stripe mud turtles and Florida mud turtles, from the wild in Florida and sold those turtles to interstate and foreign customers. Kreatsoulas then falsified U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Forms 3-177, which accompanied the international shipments, by including a false “Source” code attesting that the turtles were captive-bred and not wild-caught. Kreatsoulas also falsified invoices related to the sale of the turtles, which purported to show that the turtles sold to co-conspirators in Florida and outside the United States were “captive-bred” hatchling three-stripe mud turtles when, in fact, they were taken from the wild by Kreatsoulas and his co-conspirators. 

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 17 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Rodolfo A. Ruiz II.  Kreatsoulas faces up to five years in federal prison for each count of conviction.

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Special Agent in Charge Douglas Ault of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), Southeast Region, made the announcement. 

FWS agents in Miami investigated this matter.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald for the Southern District of Florida and Senior Trial Attorney Gary N. Donner of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division are prosecuting this case.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or at, under case number 23-cr-20480.



Public Affairs Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Florida

Updated February 28, 2024