PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A Port Richey couple is facing some serious time in federal prison after investigators say they sold exotic endangered animals online and sent them through the mail.
- Port Richey couple charged with exotic animal trafficking
- Cobra, python, monitor lizard found at their Pasco home
- Feds: Couple sold animals from their homes in Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Port Richey
Novita Indah, 48, and Larry Malugin, 51, of Port Richey, Florida, are charged with conspiracy and trafficking in protected wildlife. The couple is accused of smuggling wildlife from Indonesia to the United States and reselling the wildlife from their Florida home.
In 2017 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seized approximately 369 wildlife articles from their home. According to investigators they found assorted Javan spitting cobra, reticulated python, and monitor lizard mounts. They also reportedly found belts, wallets, as well as the skull of the Indonesian pig, babirusa.
Reports show beginning in 2011, Indah and Malugin sold wildlife on eBay from their Indonesian home to buyers across the world. They would reportedly smuggle the items to buyers in the United States in packages falsely labeled to hide what was inside them. Indah and Malugin are accused of continuing to do the same thing when moved to Puerto Rico and then when they moved to Port Richey in 2013.
People who live near the couple were surprised and concerned about the allegations.
“Of course they’re a threat to their natural habitats here because they grow and they have to eat. I know as pets I wouldn’t have them in a family with children. Because if they get out they could squeeze, they could constrict around a child and kill them, neighbor Janice Parres said.”
Investigators said over the course of five years, Malugin and Indah reportedly sold and shipped almost five thousand falsely labeled packages that had with wildlife inside them. All of the reported sales the couple is accused of making added up to more than $200,000.
Federal authorities say All of the wildlife was protected by an international treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
If convicted, Indah and Malugin could face up to 20 years in prison on the smuggling charges and five years for the Lacey Act violations. The indictment also seeks to forfeit the wildlife seized from their home.