Tom Crutchfield, also known as Tommy, is an American reptile breeder known for his extensive Homestead, Florida, facility and his 1999 arrest and conviction under Operation Chameleon for trafficking in exotic animals and violating the Lacey Act, which temporarily suspended his business. He has called himself "the Mick Jagger of the reptile business".The case was later featured on National Geographic's Locked Up Abroad . He is also the focus of the 2008 book by Bryan Christy, The Lizard King, along with Michael Van Nostrand of Strictly Reptiles, and the 2011 book Stolen World by Jennie Smith.
Before becoming interested in reptiles, Tom was a carpet salesman.
Crutchfield is well known for his work with reptiles. In 1981, he purchased the first documented amelanistic Burmese python from a Thai dealer, for US$21,000, after seeing the animal featured in a 1981 edition of National Geographic magazine. He then partnered with Bob Clark to produce the first captive-bred albino Burmese pythons from that animal.He also produced the first albino Iguana iguana and supplied reptiles to movies such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Raiders of the Lost Ark .
In 1992 Tom was charged with illegally importing reptiles. The charge had little effect on business as that same year he imported sixteen Gaboon vipers and fourteen Burmese pythons via the Montgomery Zoo.Later, in 1995, Tom was convicted a second time, of illegally smuggling Fiji Banded Iguanas into the United States. The case was tried in district court after complaints that the prosecutor's dissection of Penny Crutchfield's, Tom's wife, sexual behavior was irrelevant in a case about illegally importing iguanas.
In 1997, US Marshals and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, under Operation Chameleon, informed Tom that he was under investigation for wildlife smuggling for the third time.In the 1997 charge, he was accused of conspiring with two German nationals, Wolfgang Kloe and Frank Lehmeyer, and a Japanese national, Kei Tomono, to illegally import over 200 reptiles and amphibians, including Madagascar tree boas, Madagascar ground boas, as well as a species of turtles, all species under the protection of CITES., Tom immediately fled to Belize, but he was extradited back to the US by officials there. Crutchfield was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Of his 1992-1999 smuggling activity, Tom stated that he was "guilty because I'm guilty."
In March 2011, Tom's business partner and the owner of the snake farm property, Bruce Stephenson, arrived on the property with a gun and barricaded himself inside one of the buildings on the property. SWAT team members responded to the situation and initiated a standoff. Tom was grazed by a bullet, and the situation ended when gunfire ceased and an armed body was found inside the building.
The Pythonidae, commonly known as pythons, are a family of nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes in the world. Nine genera and 40 species are currently recognized.
The Burmese python is one of the largest species of snakes. It is native to a large area of Southeast Asia but is found as an invasive species elsewhere. Until 2009, it was considered a subspecies of Python molurus, but now is recognized as belonging to a distinct species.
The green tree python is a species of snake in the family Pythonidae. The species is native to New Guinea, some islands in Indonesia, and the Cape York Peninsula in Australia. First described by Hermann Schlegel in 1872, it was known for many years as Chondropython viridis. As its common name suggests, it is a bright green snake that can reach a total length of 2 m (6.6 ft) and a weight of 1.6 kg (3.5 lb), with females slightly larger and heavier than males. Living generally in trees, the green tree python mainly hunts and eats small reptiles and mammals. It is a popular pet, and numbers in the wild have suffered with large-scale smuggling of wild-caught green tree pythons in Indonesia. Despite this, the green tree python is rated as least concern on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.
Wildlife trade refers to the commerce of products that are derived from non-domesticated animals or plants usually extracted from their natural environment or raised under controlled conditions. It can involve the trade of living or dead individuals, tissues such as skins, bones or meat, or other products. Legal wildlife trade is regulated by the United Nations' Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which currently has 183 member countries called Parties. Illegal wildlife trade is widespread and constitutes one of the major illegal economic activities, comparable to the traffic of drugs and weapons. Wildlife trade is a serious conservation problem, has a negative effect on the viability of many wildlife populations and is one of the major threats to the survival of vertebrate species. The illegal wildlife trade has been linked to the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases in humans, including emergent viruses. Global initiative like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15 have a target to end the illegal supply of wildlife.
Based in Irvine, California, Reptiles magazine is a North American magazine dedicated to the reptile and amphibian pet hobby, specializing in the keeping and breeding of these animals.
Serpent Safari was a reptile zoo located inside the Gurnee Mills Mall in Gurnee, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. The zoo advertised itself as "America's Finest Reptile Zoo." The zoo housed some of the rarest reptiles, including the world's heaviest snake, a rare albino alligator, and a 150-year-old alligator snapping turtle. A gift shop offering pets, a photo area where guests could get their photos taken with a large python or boa, and a reptile zoo with guided tours were provided.
Wildlife smuggling or trafficking involves the illegal gathering, transportation, and distribution of animals and their derivatives. This can be done either internationally or domestically. Estimates of the money generated by wildlife smuggling vary, in part because of its illegal nature. "Wildlife smuggling is estimated at $7.8bn to $10bn a year, according to the U.S. State Department. The U.S. State Department also lists wildlife trafficking as the third most valuable illicit commerce in the world." The illegal nature of such activities makes determining the amount of money involved incredibly difficult. When considered with illegal timber and fisheries, wildlife trafficking is a major illegal trade along with narcotics, human trafficking, and counterfeit products.
New Zealand has a number of rare and endangered species and there have been cases of wildlife smuggling. New Zealand is a signatory to CITES which was set up to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES is administered by the Department of Conservation. Prosecutions from smuggling wildlife can be made under the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989.
Bill CS/SB 318 is an amendment passed by the State of Florida in June 2010 which amends several sections of Chapter 379 of the Florida Statutes (F.S.). Sections 379.231, 379.372, 379.374, 379.3761, 379.401, and 379.4015 deal with wildlife regulations and were amended by this bill. Broadly, this bill seeks to regulate entities which own, import, sell and/or breed certain prohibited species of reptiles. Specifically this bill prohibits the ownership of a variety of commonly kept pythons and monitor species. Additionally, the bill provided rules for a commission to add species of reptiles to the prohibited list.
The East Bay Vivarium is a shop located in Berkeley, California in the United States. The store is more than forty years old, the oldest and largest store of its kind in the United States. It sells snakes, lizards, various other reptiles and amphibians, as well as the supplies to maintain and care for them. The store is open to reptile enthusiasts, hobbyists, and the general public. The store has been deemed a "must-see" by Disney family and the "strangest attraction" in Berkeley by The New York Times.
Operation Chameleon was a series of undercover operations performed by the Office of Law Enforcement of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) with the aim of rounding up several reptile smuggling rings. The operation lasted five years, starting during the second half of the 1990s and was mainly concerned with violations of laws as the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act. The FWS cooperated with law enforcement agencies around the world.
Komodo Indonesian Fauna Museum and Reptile Park, is a zoological museum located within Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) compound, East Jakarta, Indonesia. The museum specialized on presenting various collection of the fauna of Indonesia, especially endemic animals of Indonesia, to provides information and education on Indonesian animal diversity. The Komodo Fauna Museum is located on southeast corner of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah cultural park.
Florida is host to many types of fauna
Wong Keng Liang is a Malaysian animal smuggler, known as the "Lizard King" or the "Pablo Escobar of animal trafficking". He was arrested after running the biggest global animal smuggling ring to be taken down.