A New York resident accused of smuggling protected turtles
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A New York resident accused of smuggling protected turtles

Russell Milis, 26, of New York, was charged with two counts of smuggling goods from the United States and one count of violating the Lacey Act, a conservation law designed to prevent illegal trade in fish, wildlife and plants. (stock photo Getty Images)

NEW YORK ( NewsNation ) – A New York man is facing federal charges after allegedly sending a protected species of turtle from the U.S. to China for the black market pet trade, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Russell Milis, 26, of New York, was charged with two counts of smuggling goods from the United States and one count of violating the Lacey Act, a conservation law designed to prevent illegal trade in fish, wildlife and plants.


According to the Department of Justice, both turtle species are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement aimed at protecting fish, wildlife and plants that are or may be in danger of extinction.

If found guilty on all charges, Milis faces 25 years in prison and a fine of more than $250,000.

A federal district court judge will determine the sentence if convicted.