JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers say they surprised two Sumter County men early Thursday morning when the men came off Lake Apopka with a couple of sacks full of recently hatched alligators.
Robert ?Bo? Martin Duval, 32, and Christopher Cork Scroggins, 22, both of Bushnell, were booked into Lake County jail early Thursday on felony possession/capture of hatchling alligators along with misdemeanor conspiracy charges.
Duval had additional felony charges of possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon. The firearms were concealed under some vegetation in the airboat boat.
FWC Officer David Straub and FWC Reserve Officer were on surveillance at the Montverde boat ramp when the two men returned from the night on Lake Apopka.
?You have got me, and I have a lot of alligator hatchlings,? Duval said as the officers approached him and Scroggins.
?Unfortunately, there is an illegal market for hatchling alligators, and people who participate in this type of poaching have no regard for our resources or the laws that protect them,? Straub said.
Officers returned the hatchlings to the lake alive. Duval and Scroggins later bailed out on $13,000 and $3,000 bonds, respectively.
Charges are pending against a woman who assisted the two men at the boat ramp, and the incident is still under investigation.
Possessing/capturing hatchling alligators is a third-degree felony, which, on conviction, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
To report alligator and other fish, wildlife or boating violations, call the 24-hour Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if their information leads to an arrest.