3 sentenced in Texas alligator snapping turtles sales case

December 15, 2017 GMT

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — Two men have been sentenced to federal prison in a scheme to catch alligator snapping turtles in Texas and sell the rare reptiles for up to $1,000 apiece.

Prosecutors in Beaumont say Travis Leger of Sulphur, Louisiana, was sentenced Friday to 21 months. His half brother, Jason Leckelt of Wilburton, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 16 months.

Both men, plus Rickey Paul Simon of Sulphur, Louisiana, earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally traffic the turtles. Simon received probation.

Alligator snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtles in the world, can weigh 200 pounds and live up to 100 years.

Authorities believe dozens of turtles were caught in Texas and transported to Louisiana. Both states have laws protecting alligator snapping turtles.

Investigators recovered about 30 of the turtles from ponds in Sulphur.