Operation Viper

Well this just happened a man called
Timothy Gould and 7 others were just arrested on Thursday.
Timothy Gould, 38 was arrested for:
Improper labeling
Improper caging
No Bite Protocol
Possession of a venomous reptile without a permit
No import permit
Sale or transfer to unlicensed person.

And for the others they were arrested for basically venomous snakes without permit plus other stuff.

You can read more here


Interesting article, though it leads me to the following question to @john, @eaglereptiles, or whomever can answer: What is the protocol if MM store owner is arrested for trafficking?


I would very well hope that their store gets blacklisted to start with. If they are found innocent to all charges pertaining to reptile malpractice then it gets renewed. But if they get convicted then MorphMarket account goes bye bye and they should be put on a list of individuals available to all sellers of criminals that are banned from purchasing reptiles.
It sounds really harsh because it is but y’all know that in our industry the intensity of the consequences to ALL OF US if one person has the audacity is immense. Thousands of people could loose their animals. Thousands of innocent reptilian lives could be lost. I believe we should have a seriously strong no tolerance policy. Especially on the counts of non native release and venomous misconduct.


I can’t give a definitive answer to this case right here (ive not read the article yet), but in general:

Arrested = nothing immediate, just a watching eye and additional background digging. A ban until a verdict if MM are certain of the charges.

Convicted = They will see the boot, MM will work with all law authorities, giving any assistance we can.

Many people every day are falsely/inappropriately arrested, and while trafficking is pretty clear cut, until a jury have come to a decision then we can’t drop the blade without being certain.

Its a case by case basis though. One uninformed keeper moving house to a new state with their pet snake VS another stuffing Australian spilota down their trousers in the airport toilets are two different situations that would need looking at individually…

Now to jump into the article.


We will keep this up for discussion around the subject, however, please refrain from mentioning names or charges of the current case.


This is a good way to do it, for everyone’s sake, I think. Makes me feel very secure in my choice to use MorphMarket as both a buyer and seller.


My intent is not to see anyone blacklisted or deplatformed, but simply to point out that there is at least one long time MorphMarket member that was very well known in the community for having been federally convicted of smuggling, Lacey Act violations, conspiracy etc. prior to the existence of MorphMarket and they have been allowed to carry on as a member of MorphMarket selling high end animals on here for years. I would be surprised if there are not more than just the one prominent individual I’m thinking of that are currently on MM that this would apply to if this was the stance taken.

In my opinion, ^^ working with authorities is certainly best practice, but once the individual has served all legal punishment they should be able to continue use of the platform (with a watchful eye/if they are legally permitted to do so) and it would be up to the community to decide if they will even support the individual after they have served their punishment for their conviction. Word gets around fairly quickly in the community. And deplatforming the person only pushes them to further “back alley” less regulated/watched avenues.


Fully agree with this. Once the legal process has been gone through, it’s up public opinion at that point. People can make their choices in purchasing or not. There’s always that chance that a run-in with the law might set someone on a straighter path in the future.


I don’t know if i can agree with that. There are no mistakes in this industry there’s too much at stake. The crimes that were discussed in this article involve improper and unlicensed keeping, unlicensed sale, and even release of venomous reptiles in Florida, which is already struggling with invasives and harmful/ignorant legislation that is impacting way more than just Florida. If it were “oh, you moved to an area where your pets were illegal, oops!” it would be another thing entirely. But anyone that’s involved enough in this community to know that MorphMarket exists is involved enough to know that, that behavior is 100% against worldwide herp community standards. So that’s to say that at some point there was a thought process there that disregarded the passion, hard work, and already slipping legal rights of every herp and keeper out there. That’s not the kind of person i want to see active in my community. And COMPETES slipped by waay to close to me last year for me to not feel strongly about this.

We’re talking about self-policing which is hard, but painfully lacking right now. The general public will always see responsible keepers no different from the rubbish. But drawing that line in the sand ourselves and enforcing it can make the difference clear in the long run. I see the point about banning outright driving people to more backdoor methods of purchase and sale, and yet I don’t entirely believe those avenues weren’t already on the table for those individuals to begin with. If they’re shady enough to disregard basic herp common sense, then what’s stopping them in the first place? If someone wants to move venomous reptiles in a restricted area, and/or doesn’t want to go through all of the hoops to get a license to own legally, then they are gonna buy/sell through those avenues regardless. All that allowing them to participate on MorphMarket unrestricted after being convicted of those crimes is doing is affiliating us with them. If you look at that from an outsider’s perspective, then what truly is the difference between a responsible keeper and a criminal? I wouldn’t blame the wider public for assuming there isn’t one.

At very least, like a felon will still have consequences post sentence, like being less likely to get a job, voting restrictions, loosing their second amendment rights to own a firearm, a keeper convicted of animal crimes should have similar lasting consequences. Maybe like a flag on their account that’s visible to anyone potentially looking to buy/sell to the individual. Also, being put onto a registry of individuals convicted of animal crimes (possibly with details of what crime was committed) for all to see. They’re technically still allowed to be on MM but their likelihood of being able to buy or sell any animal on the platform (or anywhere else) will be severely affected for the rest of their lives. It will then be up to the community themselves to decide on a case by case basis wether or not they choose to do business with that person depending on the severity of their crimes. And if the criminal has changed, they’ll have to work hard to prove it.

(Also putting flags on accounts of known convicts can help buyers make more informed decisions/feel safer shopping responsibly on MM.) Although it would not substitute for regular seller research, it would bring attention to information that a seller or buyer would want to know before making a decision on a purchase, that they may never even know about otherwise.

A system like this proves that the community means business which is what can really deter someone from going rogue. It also enforces our dedication to animal welfare and responsible keeping/conduct in the eyes of non herp society. Which could do wonders for our legitimacy as animal lovers and thusly our animal rights as a whole in the political eye. And it’s not like we would be listing individuals for anything we didn’t like. All those receiving the consequences would be legally guilty of crimes punishable in the US.
The bottom line for me is, we work too hard to educate, break down stereotypes, and retain basic rights, to fail to hold our own to the standards we wish to be associated with by the rest of the world.


I personally think that they should pay the repercussions of their illegal activities. There is no hard discussion to take place, they shouldn’t be allowed to sell like that because it is illegal, period.


Without saying names, a couple names are familiar from Fauna classifieds, and they already don’t have very good reps.


I would re-read that article again. Not one sentence involved anything about venemous animals being released. Only “prohibited” animals.

Prohibited animals can mean many things, but in that context it wasn’t venemous. More than likely pertained to Burmese pythons.

I keep seeing people post this, especially the general public. Prohibited in FWC talk is referring to conditional species.


Stuff life this just sickens me. Illegal, unethical, just plain wrong on every level. And yes, it’s a big ole shiner on the face of community in the eyes of non-reptile people. Too many read a story like this one, or worse yet, get a garbled and exaggerated version, and get on the warpath against all exotics.

As far as MM goes, I agree that arrest and conviction should be treated differently. Arrested is still legally innocent until proven guilty. However egregious and obvious a person’s guilt may appear, that’s still the legal standard. I realize that this is a private platform and there may be some cases where a different choice is made for good and fair reasons.

I really like this idea. It’s reasonable, fair, logical and a good tool for the community. Those who have been active in a community for years may know the backstories, but newer people don’t know and may not even know where or how to look for reliable information as opposed to social media gossip.

If a person has two separate convictions over time (not convictions on multiple charges in the same time frame), I think they should be barred from MM even if we have a list. Recidivists do exponentially more damage to the hobby.


I read the article over again and you were right, they said prohibited not venomous on the topic of intentional release, good catch.


It really is people like that that ruins everything for the real and passionate members of the reptile community. I agree that some form of “karma system” beyond the rating system already in place is a good start.

I think making it public and making it harder for people to do business unlawfully in the reptile community would be a great idea. That would for sure show people that this site doesn’t pander or accept criminal activity…

(Now I have the urge to play Fable, which is now impossible)

Not that it would stop shady people from trading in places like craigslist, Facebook, IG, or other social media sites… but I feel that anyone searching sites like craigslist to score a reptile are pretty shady too. (Not including reptile rescues and community members who know exactly what they are doing)

IDK it is disheartening and disgusting that there are so many fraudulent criminals both on this site and off this site.

I love MM and the amazing community it offers. I just think it sucks that the actions of some can adversely affect the market that the many use for their passion and in some cases their livelihood.

I really do think that because of that, MM should consider a form of “karma” based on the person’s PUBLIC character and not based on ratings.


Okay… So…

Taking off my MM Mod hat for a moment here because I DO NOT want anyone taking what I say here to be mistaken as MM policy or stance or anything like that.

This is all me, speaking as me the hobbyist
I understand people’s concerns here but there are nuances and aspects that are being overlooked and I feel that they should be pulled out into daylight

First, I want to address the matter that people keep raising about how things like this are a black-eye on the hobby when viewed by the public.

That is true, but a large part of the reason it is true is because the media like to spin things up in such a way as to make everything a crisis. You know, this media:

The issue here is that people calling for blood seem to have forgotten that the media is blowing things up for views. I am not saying that what happened is a nothing-burger. But I am saying that maybe before we call for permanent banning from MM for all time and space that we maybe consider that above picture when we are reading the article in question and exercise a bit of temperance
Second, consider the broader picture of what you are arguing. Saying that the accepting the punishment is moot with respect to the crime might be a bridge too far. While everything on there looks really scary (because, “thank you media”) the fact of the matter is that pretty all of the animal related charges are classed as misdemeanors. Which means that they are, legally, the equivalent of vandalism or trespassing. These people are not being locked up and interrogated and having the book thrown at them. They were basically issued their citations and told to appear in court. Little, if anything, is going to stick with them for life. So calling for a massively punitive action just because media click-bait makes us look bad might be a bit of overkill
And while we are on the topic of click-bait…

Third, should MM be banning major names in the industry that post horrible, cringe-worthy, click-bait stuff on their YT, FB, IG feeds? Things that, when the public sees them, are just as damaging to the hobby as a damaging click-bait media story that?

All about perspective
Personally, few of the names on that list were new to me. In point of fact, almost all of them were already on my ‘Do Not Buy From’ list. I do not think any of them are on MM as it it (could be mistaken there as I may have blocked them so long ago I forgot they exist). If you have been in this hobby long enough, you start learning who to avoid.


We take it on a case by case basis and monitor, suspend or ban as appropriate.


So ruin their business before they are found guilty? You must have serious trust in the justice system….

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