PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Two Florida men were charged with illegally trafficking in threatened and endangered rattlesnakes, federal prosecutors said.
Robroy MacInnes, 54, of Fort Myers; Robert Keszey, 47, of Bushnell; and their business, Glades Herp Farm, were charged in a two-count indictment, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
All three defendants were charged with conspiring to traffic in endangered and threatened reptiles; MacInnes and Glades Herp Farm were charged with trafficking in protected Eastern timber rattlesnakes, in violation of the Lacey Act.
"According to the indictment, between 2007 and 2008, the defendants collected protected snakes from the wild in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, purchased protected eastern timber rattlesnakes that had been illegally collected from the wild in violation of New York law, and transported federally threatened eastern indigo snakes from Florida to Pennsylvania. The indictment also charges that defendants MacInnes and Glades violated the Lacey Act by purchasing illegal eastern timber rattlesnakes and having the snakes transported to Florida," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
The Eastern timber rattlesnake is endangered in New Jersey and threatened in New York. It is illegal to possess one without a permit in Pennsylvania.
The Eastern indigo snake is the longest snake native to North America; it can grow up to 9 feet. It is protected by Florida and federal law.
Violation of the Lacey act is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Rattlesnakes, though generally feared, tend to be shy creatures that seldom bite unless threatened. They help control vermin and their venom is collected to be made into anti-venin.
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