Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Arizona Man Sentenced for Violating Wildlife Laws

December 13, 2017

Contact(s):

Nick Chavez, 505/248-7889, nicholas_chavez@fws.gov
Aislinn Maestas, 505/248-6599, aislinn_maestas@fws.gov


Gila monster. Credit: Jeff Servoss, USFWS.

Gila monster. Credit: Jeff Servoss, USFWS.

PHOENIX, Arizona-An Arizona man has been convicted and fined for violating the Lacey Act, announced Nick Chavez, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Southwest Region.

Jonthan Sampson Benson pleaded guilty this week before U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan on three counts of Lacey Act violations. The court then ordered him to serve five years of probation and pay $2,225 restitution to the Lacey Act Reward Account and $2,500 to the Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Theft Prevention Fund. Benson was also ordered to forfeit all wildlife to the government, which includes two Gila monsters, two Prairie rattlesnakes, two Tiger rattlesnakes, one Speckled rattlesnake, one Hopi rattlesnake and one Arizona black rattlesnake.

“The FWS Office of Law Enforcement contributes to service efforts and mission by combatting the illegal trafficking of wildlife,” said Chavez. “This case is another example of our special agents working with federal prosecutors to bring justice to those who want to profit from the illegal sales of protected wildlife.”

The Lacey Act prohibits people from importing, exporting, transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring or purchasing any fish or wildlife or plant taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law, treaty or regulation of the United States or in violation of any tribal law.

Benson pleaded guilty to taking reptiles from Arizona and selling them in South Carolina. In November 2013, Benson sold two falsely labelled Gila monsters, two Prairie rattlesnakes, two Tiger rattlesnakes, and one Speckled rattlesnake in interstate commerce. Benson was also charged with making a similar transaction in July 2014. This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.            

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.