Tiger King star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle has been charged with federal funds laundering crimes involving dollars that allegedly came from an operation to smuggle illegal immigrants from Mexico to the U.S., the Department of Justice (DOJ) explained Monday.
Antle, a controversial wild animal trainer who owns the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, was arrested by the FBI on Friday. One particular of his workforce and business enterprise associates, Omar Sawyer, was also taken into custody.
Antle was showcased in the well-known 2020 Netflix documentary series that uncovered abuse in private zoo functions and the exotic pet trade. The series focused largely on Oklahoma zoo operator Joe Unique, who has been accused of mistreating animals and was convicted in a legal plot to destroy his enemy, Carole Baskin.
The DOJ said Tuesday that about the previous four months, Antle and Sawyer laundered $505,000 in hard cash they thought to be the proceeds of a plot to smuggle illegal immigrants throughout the Southern border.
The two carried our their procedure by furnishing checks from two individual firms that falsely claimed they had been remitted for development perform executed at the Myrtle Beach front Safari, in accordance to the DOJ. In actuality, the checks ended up a way to let the recipients to surface to have authentic money, and in exchange, Antle and Sawyer obtained a 15 p.c price of all laundered money.
“The criticism alleges that Antle reviewed his program to conceal the income he been given by inflating vacationer figures at the Myrtle Seaside Safari, and that in the past he had utilized bulk money receipts to buy animals for which he could not use checks,” the DOJ extra in an announcement.
Antle and Sawyer are at this time currently being detained at the J. Reuben Extensive Detention Middle in Conway, South Carolina, and now encounter a greatest of 20 many years in federal jail.
This does not mark the very first time Antle has confronted legal prices. The 62-calendar year-previous is also going through two felony counts of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to wildlife trafficking fees, as properly as 13 misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and animal cruelty charges tied to trafficking lion cubs, according to the Associated Press.
A spokesperson for Individuals for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA), which has very long condemned Antle’s procedure of animals, informed the news outlet earlier this week that the prices towards him are “fitting.”
“It’s fitting that ‘Doc’ Antle is at the rear of bars soon after many years of locking up the endangered animals he takes advantage of in tawdry photograph ops. His lawful woes are mounting,” explained Debbie Metzler, associate director of PETA’s Captive Animal Legislation Enforcement division.