‘Lizard King’ gets 7 months for trafficking Florida turtles

Courtesy photo from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

MIAMI – A Florida man has been sentenced to seven months in federal prison followed by a year of home confinement for his part in a scheme to smuggle illegally harvested Florida turtles to China, Japan and other places.

Court records show 55-year-old Michael Van Nostrand was sentenced Tuesday in Miami federal court.

He pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to illegally traffic wildlife.

According to court documents, Van Nostrand and others established a network of “collectors” who searched the Florida wilds for certain freshwater turtle specimens.

Prosecutor say the collectors then falsely labeled the turtles as having been bred in captivity, rather than caught in the wild.