A Spring Hill man could spend a maximum of ten years in federal prison after pleading guilty to violating the Lacey Act Trafficking by selling Florida Box Turtles, Loggerhead Musk Turtles, and Ornate Diamondback terrapins to a customer in Oregon, who in turn sold them to his customers in China. Enacted in 1900, the Lacey Act is intended to stop the trafficking of illegally obtained wildlife, fish and plants.
According to U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg of the Middle District of Florida, the plea deal stems from a 2018 investigation during which Tampa Police Officers acting on a warrant discovered several 300-gallon tanks filled with turtles and other containers used for rearing turtles at the Spring Hill home of Kevin Olbrych, 48.
In all, Olbrych kept a total of 120 turtles in inappropriate conditions without having proper licenses to have them, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
Tampa Police confiscated the animals on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and turned them over to someone qualified to rehabilitate them on behalf of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Afterward, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched its own investigation, which revealed that Olbrych had been selling the animals to a co-conspirator buyer in Oregon who subsequently sold them to buyers in China.
Ongoing investigation revealed that even after law enforcement seized the animals from his home in 2018, Olbrych continued to traffic the turtles through 2021.
A sentencing date for him has not yet been set.