On February 13, 2015, James Odell McGriff was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release by U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra for unlawfully transporting endangered sea turtles. Judge Marra also ordered that McGriff not go east of the Intracoastal Waterway while he is on supervised release.
On August 15, 2014, James Odell McGriff, 56, of Riviera Beach, Florida, dug into two sea turtle nests and unlawfully took 299 endangered sea turtle eggs. Twelve of the eggs were held as evidence, and the remaining 287 sea turtle eggs were returned to the nests, in an effort to allow the eggs to continue to develop and possibly hatch.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officers and Supervisory Federal Wildlife Officer William Calvert investigated the case jointly. On September 5, 2014, Officer Calvert secured a Federal arrest warrant for McGriff who was charged with felony Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act counts. Officers arrested McGriff at his residence in Riviera Beach. The arrest team also included Federal Wildlife Officer Scott Engstler and four United States Marshals.
McGriff intended to sell the illegally obtained eggs for $20.00 a dozen. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the black market value is between $3.00 and $5.00 per stolen egg, for a total profit of between $897.00 and $1,495.00.
This is the 8th sea turtle trafficking case jointly investigated by Officer Calvert and FWC investigators since 2002. All eight cases were prosecuted federally with prison sentences of between 2 and 5 years. This case is the second time McGriff has been prosecuted in the Federal system for trafficking in Endangered Species. He was arrested in 2002 in a buy bust operation by Officer Calvert and FWC for selling a dozen sea turtle eggs to an officer.