FWC issues 24 arrests and warnings in "Operation Wild Web"

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FLORIDA -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it has recently issued arrests and warnings in 24 counties, from Polk to Escambia, as part of a four-day operation called “Operation Wild Web.”

The operation aimed to crack down on the illegal selling of fish and wildlife. Officers and investigators with the FWC – along with partner agencies – used the Internet to find people who authorities say intentionally carried out the unlawful sale of fish and wildlife, among other crimes. Cases involved the unlawful sale of pythons and other reptiles, as well as freshwater and saltwater fish and exotic birds. The operation also cracked down on businesses operating without licenses.

“Licensed facilities and legal business can be checked to ensure animals are handled safely and humanely,” FWC Capt. Rett Boyd said in a statement. “But unlicensed facilities go without inspections for safety and cleanliness. And without a record of where they got their animals, these facilities could potentially spread dangerous diseases through their transactions, without any way to track the source of the problem.”

Most arrests in “Operation Wild Web” were second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to $500 dollars in fines, and up to 60 days in jail.