TUCSON, Ariz. -- A federal judge has sentenced an Alabama man for trafficking in Gila monsters and other protected reptiles he would trap in Arizona.
Federal prosecutors said David Langella started traveling to Arizona in 2005 to hunt out the reptiles. Langella would enter places like the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge along the border and capture Gila monsters, ridge-nosed and twin-spotted rattlesnakes. These are protected species in Arizona.
Mark Rouleau is an officer with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries agency. He says Langella drew law enforcement's attention when he advertised the Gila monsters on social media. Rouleau said they’re attractive on the black market.
"Not only Alabama, but everywhere, you know, folks are into these exotic reptiles," Rouleau said.
Court records show Langella also acted as a trapping guide for at least two other people. He’d sell the reptiles everywhere from the Deep South to clients in Germany and in some cases, took payment via PayPal.
In August 2009, court records show that Arizona wildlife officers inspected the hotel room he was staying in with two unnamed conspirators. They said Langella then called someone in Alabama and asked the person to hide his own illegal snake collection so officers there would not find them.
Langella received three years of probation.
An example of a Gila monster, from Arizona Game and Fish Department:pe="oembed" width="420" height="315" align="left" >http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCgUy_8i3_4