Florida man (and woman) charged with smuggling exotic animals


  • Photo via Shutterstock
An indictment from a federal grand jury in Tampa was unsealed on Wednesday that charged a Port Richey couple with conspiracy and trafficking of wildlife worth over $200,000.

In 2017, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) seized 369 "wildlife articles" from the home of Larry Malugin, 51, and Novita Indah, 48 - including a Javan spitting cobra, reticulated python, and belts and wallets made from monitor lizards. Agents also found bones and taxidermy mounts of leopards, owls, and Asian primates.

The indictment alleges that in 2011, the couple sold wildlife on eBay from their home in Indonesia. The items were shipped in falsely labeled packages and shipped to the United States. Indah and Malugin continued their activities when they moved to Puerto Rico, and then to Florida in 2013.

The online scheme ran until 2017 they made more than 4,500 sales of prohibited wildlife for about $211,212, according to a press release from the U.S Department of Justice.

The wildlife smuggled by the couple is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The United States and Indonesia are among 181 nations that have signed the treaty.

"The CITES agreement was created to prevent the international trade of protected wildlife," Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Bossert Clark said in a press release. “And the Department of Justice will seek to prosecute individuals who flout this treaty and other important environmental laws."

Indah and Malugin face a maximum sentence of 20 years of incarceration on charges of smuggling and 5 years for violating the Lacey Act - which prohibits the trade of illegally procured wildlife.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.