Palm Harbor man gets one year in jail for trafficking in animal parts

He was forced to surrender his weapons and ammunition, investigators said.

PALM HARBOR, Fla .– A Palm Harbor man has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after prosecutors said he was trafficking endangered species.

The US Department of Justice said Steven Phillip Griffin II, 36, visited Texas in May 2019. There, investigators say he encountered undercover agents and paid 9,750 $ for two southern white rhino horns, four elephant ivory tusks, an African lion skull. , and three leopard skulls. He then illegally returned them to Palm Harbor, according to the DOJ.

During his discussions with an undercover Fish and Wildlife Service agent, prosecutors said Griffin revealed he had collected skulls, complete skeletons and other parts of endangered or threatened species, including lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, rhinos and elephants.

“Griffin also sent numerous photographs from his personal collection, as well as items from his wish list, to the undercover agent via text message,” the DOJ wrote in a statement.

A search warrant at his Florida home led to the seizure of various animal parts. He reached a plea deal in November 2020 and was recently sentenced in Tampa.

“This sentence sends a clear message to wildlife traffickers that we and our law enforcement partners are identifying and apprehending those who exploit protected species for commercial purposes,” he said. Special Agent in Charge Phillip Land of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS-OLE) wrote in a statement.

The court ordered Griffin to forgo parts of the endangered and threatened wildlife. He was also forced to hand over 10 firearms and ammunition, which he was not legally allowed to have due to a previous conviction.

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