Red-eared slider. Photo by ODNR.

Turtle trafficker, officer assaulter indicted in Hamilton County

In a bizarre only-in-Ohio kind of incident, an individual suspected of trafficking red-eared slider turtles in Cincinnati and striking a state wildlife officer with his vehicle was recently indicted in Hamilton County by a grand jury, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

In July, State Wildlife Officer Brad Turner, assigned to Preble County, received a Turn-In-a-Poacher (TIP) report regarding turtles being sold in Cincinnati. Officer Turner and State Wildlife Officer Andrew Dowdell, assigned to Butler County, responded to the location. They found two men selling red-eared sliders without the required propagation permit.

During the encounter, one of the suspects, Alonso Oliver-Tucker, 37, of Philadelphia, disobeyed an officer’s verbal commands and fled in his vehicle, striking Officer Turner as he accelerated. Officer Turner was treated at The Christ Hospital and released the same evening.

The Cincinnati Police Department filed three arrest warrants for Oliver-Tucker, who was arrested several days later in Pennsylvania. The suspect was recently indicted by a grand jury in Hamilton County on two felony counts: assault on a police officer and failure to comply with an order of a police officer.

The officers seized more than 100 red-eared sliders. An investigation into wildlife violations for both suspects is pending. Potential wildlife violations include failure to obtain a propagation permit, failure to keep record of sales, failure to attach Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags to turtles used in commercial sale, and deterrence of a wildlife officer.

The Division of Wildlife has received assistance in the proceedings of this case from the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft nature center at Hueston Woods State Park, as well as the Collaborative to Combat the Illegal Trade in Turtles.

Anyone can report a wildlife violation through the Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) program. Wildlife violations can be reported anonymously by calling 800-POACHER (762-2437).

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