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Press Release

Lee County, Florida Man Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring 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 – On May 24, a Lee County man was sentenced to prison 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, was sentenced to serve a year and a day in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Kreatsoulas was also barred by the court from engaging in any commercial activity involving wildlife.  He had previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic wildlife and nine counts of falsifying records in violation of the Lacey Act.

According to court documents, 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 Reptiles was in the business of domestic and international wholesale trade of wildlife, including protected species of reptiles. Kreatsoulas and Omni Reptiles 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 (FWS) Form 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. 

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Special Agent in Charge Douglas Ault of the FWS, Southeast Region and Major James Barrow, Statewide Investigation Unit, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 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 prosecuted this case.



Public Affairs Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Florida

Updated May 28, 2024