TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)– Palm Harbor man sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison, and two years of supervised release, for recieving and transporting endangered series in violation of Endangered Species Act and for possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon.
Steven Phillip Griffinn, II, 36, of Palm Harbor is also ordered to forfeit two pairs of southern white rhino horns, four African elephant ivory tusks, one African lion skull, three leopard skulls, ten firearms, and ammunition.READ MORE: WATCH: Ghosts of Ybor City | 5 Part Series
Griffin had pleaded guilty on November 10, 2020.
According to the plea agreement, Griffin communicated with a United States Fish & Wildlife Service – Office of Law Enforcement undercover special agent for more than two years to negotiate the sale and purchase of endangered and threatened wildlife. Throughout Griffin’s communications with the undercover agent, Griffin repeatedly stated that he collects skulls, full skeletons, and other parts of a variety of endangered and/or threatened wildlife such as lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, rhinos, and elephants.READ MORE: Jacksonville Man Sentenced For Using The Internet To Attempt To Entice And Meet A 12-Year-Old Child For Sex
Griffin also sent numerous photographs of his personal collection, as well as items on his wish list, to the undercover agent via text message. In May 2019, Griffin drove to Texas, met with undercover agents, purchased, and illegally transported two Southern White rhino horns, four elephant ivory tusks, one African lion skull, and three leopard skulls to Palm Harbor, Florida. Griffin paid the undercover agent $9,750 in cash for the endangered and/or threatened animal parts.
Agents then executed a federal search warrant at Griffin’s residence and seized a variety of endangered and/or threatened animal parts, firearms, and ammunition. Griffin has been previously convicted of a felony and knew he was not allowed to possess a firearm or ammunition due to his prior conviction.MORE NEWS: Investigation Ongoing After A Fatal Single Vehicle Crash In St. Petersburg
“This sentence sends a clear message to wildlife traffickers that we and our law enforcement partners are in the business of identifying and apprehending those who exploit protected species for commercial gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Phillip Land of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS-OLE).