Suspects Illegally Smuggled Florida Flying Squirrels To South Korea, FWC Says
It involved as many as 3,600 squirrels that were smuggled into South Korea.
Florida wildlife authorities say they’ve charged seven individuals in what is described as an international criminal organization dedicated to the illegal trade of flying squirrels.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the operation stretched from Central Florida to South Korea.
As many as 3,600 flying squirrels were trapped during a three-year period, netting one wildlife dealer in Bushnell nearly $214,000 dollars in illegal proceeds.
The squirrels are a protected wild animal in Florida. Florida Fish and Wildlife estimates the international retail value of the poached wildlife will exceed $1 million.
As the operation expanded it involved couriers from Georgia, including one who would drive the animals to Chicago. The animals were sold to South Korean buyers who flew to the U.S.
Protected freshwater turtles and alligators also were illegally taken.
Together the seven suspects face 25 felony charges including racketeering, money laundering and scheming to defraud.
The charged individuals are identified as: Rodney Crendell Knox, 66, of Bushnell; Kenneth Lee Roebuck, 59, of Lake Panasoffkee; Donald Lee Harrod, Jr., 49, of Bushnell; Vester Ray Taylor, Jr., 40, of Webster; Jong Yun Baek, 56, of Marietta, Ga.; Ervin Woodyard, Jr., 40, of Greenville, Ga.; and an unnamed fugitive.
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