Four men charged in trafficking protected snapping turtles
Federal investigators have broken up a ring that was illegally trafficking alligator snapping turtles from Texas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas said Thursday.
Travis Leger and Rickey Simon, both of Sulphur, La., and Jason Leckett of Oklahoma are charged with taking about 66 alligator snapping turtles from Texas in 2016 and transporting them to Louisiana where they would be sold, officials said.
Alligator snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtles in the world and can grow to more than 200 pounds. A threatened species, it is illegal to capture, transport or sell them, officials said.
In July 2016, federal agents seized 30 alligator snapping turtles found on properties owned by Leger and Simon. Leger also was charged with making a false statement to federal agents while Simon faces another charge of destroying evidence, officials said.
Leger was arrested Thursday in Lake Charles, La. Simon and Leckett were arrested earlier this month, officials said.
They are facing five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Simon faces an additional 20 years and $250,000 on the destruction of evidence charge, officials said.