TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida man has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for buying parts of dead endangered animals.
Steven Phillip Griffin II, 36, was sentenced last week in Tampa federal court, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in November to receiving and transporting endangered species in violation of the Endangered Species Act and for possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon.
“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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to the plea agreement, Griffin communicated with an undercover wildlife agent for more than two years to negotiate the sale and purchase of endangered and threatened wildlife. Griffin repeatedly stated that he collects skulls, full skeletons and other parts of animals such as lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, rhinos and elephants. Griffin also sent photographs of his personal collection, as well as items on his wish list, to the undercover agent.
In May 2019, Griffin drove to Texas, met with undercover agents and purchased two Southern White rhino horns, four elephant ivory tusks, one African lion skull and three leopard skulls for $9,750, investigators said. He then transported the items back to his Tampa Bay area home.
Agents later executed a federal search warrant at Griffin’s residence and seized a variety of animal parts, firearms and ammunition, officials said. Griffin had been previously convicted of a felony and was not allowed to possess a firearm or ammunition, according to authorities.