MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Two South Florida men were arrested Tuesday on felony charges for allegedly harassing wildlife and then posting videos of their interactions on social media.
Alfredo Lopez de Queralta, 45, and Javier Torres, 42, both of Miami, were arrested in North Miami on eight felony counts each of killing, injuring or possessing alligators or eggs without authority and eight misdemeanor counts pertaining to handling endangered or threatened species.
They have since been transferred to a jail in Monroe County.
Federal and state authorities raided Torres’s home last March in connection with the case.
According to an arrest warrant, Torres posted photos and videos on his social media sites of himself interacting with endangered wildlife.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers said Lopez de Queralta filmed the interactions and uploaded them to YouTube.
In one video from Feb. 22, 2017, Torres is seen entering a panther’s den and removing two panther kittens.
Investigator Guy Gilbert wrote in the arrest warrant that an adult panther fled out of the backside of the den as Torres entered the den.
Gilbert said Torres exited the den, breaking through natural foliage to conceal it, and posed with the kittens, kissing and cuddling them.
Gilbert said Torres stated that one of the kittens was male and one was female before tossing them back into the den.
Authorities said other videos posted online show Torres harassing alligators.
In one incident, Torres allegedly waded into a swamp, held an alligator's mouth open and stuck his head inside the gator’s mouth.
Another video posted on social media appears to show Torres sitting on a gator before he gets tossed off it.
Other videos feature sharks and snakes.
Neighbors told Local 10 News last year that Torres was trained to train pigeons.
Authorities said Torres and Lopez de Queralta have never obtained permits or a license that would allow them to capture gators in Florida.
Both men are being held in lieu of $80,000 bail.