Albino pythons, endangered lizards and other reptiles are the currency of an underworld as dangerous and lucrative as the drug trade. Freelance writer Christy's debut is an enthusiastic but scattered chronicle of the rise and fall of a lizard kingpin and the federal agent who pursued him. Mike Van Nostrand inherited Strictly Reptiles, an import-export business in Florida, from his father, Ray, turning it into a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation. Van Nostrand imported reptiles of all shapes and sizes, usually concealed in the suitcases or clothing of his mules, and sold them to collectors and pet stores. He exploited loopholes in the international treaty on endangered-species trade and paid off corrupt officials. In the early 1990s, Fish and Wildlife Services agent Chip Bepler set his sights on Van Nostrand. After Bepler's years of surveillance and hard work, Van Nostrand was sentenced to eight months in prison, his export license revoked, and Strictly Reptiles was forced to pay $250,000 in fines to a wildlife fund. Christy's frenetic approach-bouncing from Mike's smuggling to young Ray catching snakes to the neglect of wildlife crime prosecution-is disorienting in what could have been a fascinating tale. (Aug. 1)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglersby Bryan Christy
When Bryan Christy began to investigate the world of reptile smuggling, he had no idea what he would be in for. In the course of his/em>/em>
Imagine The Sopranos, with snakes! The Lizard King is a fascinating account of a father and son family business suspected of smuggling reptiles, and the federal agent who tried to take them down.
When Bryan Christy began to investigate the world of reptile smuggling, he had no idea what he would be in for. In the course of his research, he was bitten between the eyes by a blood python, chased by a mother alligator, and sprayed by a bird-eating tarantula. But perhaps more dangerous was coming face to face with Michael J. Van Nostrand, owner of Strictly Reptiles, a thriving family business in Hollywood, Florida. Van Nostrand imports as many as 300,000 iguanas each year (over half the total of America's most popular imported reptile), as well as hundreds of thousands of snakes, lizards, frogs, spiders, and scorpions.
Van Nostrand was suspected of being a reptile smuggler by Special Agent Chip Bepler of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who devoted years of his life in an obsessive quest to expose The Lizard King's cold-blooded crimes. How this cat-and-mouse game ended is engrossing and surprising.
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Meet the Author
Bryan Christy earned a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State Univeristy, a law degree from the University of Michigan, and a Fullbright Scholarship to Tokyo University. A native of New Jersey, his first job was as a mortician's apprentice in his family's funeral home; later, he worked as a lawyer in Washington, D.C. In researching this book he was bitten between the eyes by a blood python, chased by a mother allegator, sprayed by a bird-eating tarantula, and ejaculated on by a Bengal Tiger. A freelance writer with a taste for adventure, he has worked for Playboy and National Geographic. He can be reached at bryanchristy.com, or via thelizardkingbook.com/
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Good investigative story of the illegal reptile trade. Sad that those who claim to have an affinity with animals simply exploit them for monetary gain.
Was a fabulous book.