Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Division perform invaluable services in capturing criminal animal dealers and following each case to its conclusion. "Operation Chameleon" has resulted in the conviction of over 20 smugglers and reptile dealers in three countries. In 1992, a major Florida reptile dealer, Tom Crutchfield, was arrested and convicted.
Meantime, the prestigious San Diego Zoo had been augmenting its collection through trafficking in rare and endangered reptiles. Earl Thomas Schultz, former Curator of Reptiles, admitted he had misappropriated more than $100,000 of the zoo's money, but used it to "the zoo's benefit and to enhance its reptile collection. Much of the money was used for gifts to dealers." According to The San Diego Union Tribune, "He conducted all transactions in cash, some of which he kept at home." Schultz testified, "I was following directions… I did not take [the money] from the San Diego Zoo."
The Special Agents of FWS Law Enforcement Division have earned the appreciation of all of us who strive to protect endangered species, and they deserve strong support from the Congress and the Administration.