A Florida man pleaded guilty to smuggling thousands of turtles to Germany and Hong Kong, and falsifying documents to conceal his crimes.

A Florida man pleaded guilty to smuggling thousands of turtles to Germany and Hong Kong, and falsifying documents to conceal his crimes.

John Michael Kreatsoulas, 36, of Alva, Florida, sold wildlife through his business Omni Reptiles Inc., an unregistered business of domestic and international wholesale trade of wildlife, the Department of Justice said in a news release Wednesday.

Kreatsoulas would ship wildlife, including protected species, to customers in the U.S. and overseas, including in Hong Kong and Germany.

Some of the wildlife included various species of turtles, including three-striped mud turtles and Florida mud turtles, that Kreatsoulas and his co-conspirators would capture from the wild, officials said.

Kreatsoulas would ship the wildlife through the Miami International Airport and falsified U.S Fish and Wildlife Service forms so they stated that the turtles were captive-bred and not captured from the wild, the DOJ said. He ran the scheme from July 2015 to July 2021, officials said.

Kreatsoulas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic wildlife and nine counts of falsifying records in violation of the Lacey Act, which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken or sold.

He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each count.

Kreatsoulas is scheduled to be sentenced on May 17.

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