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‘Lizard King’ charged with trafficking Florida turtles

Davie man faces prison and heavy fines

File photo of a turtle courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
File photo of a turtle courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

MIAMI – Federal prosecutors have brought another case against the so-called “Lizard King” of Florida, accusing him of scheming to export illegally harvested turtles to China and Japan.

They say Michael Van Nostrand, 54 of Davie, and his company, Strictly Reptiles, established a network of “collectors” who searched the Florida wilds for fresh-water specimens including the three-stripe mud turtle.

Van Nostrand is accused of falsely labeling these turtles as having been bred in captivity.

He faces up to five years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines if convicted.

Van Nostrand was sentenced to eight months in prison in 1998 for buying smuggled snakes and lizards.