According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release, Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, 62, who owns Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, is accused of trafficking a chimpanzee, lemurs and cheetahs.
Antle was featured in the first season of “Tiger King” and also the subject of the 2021 spin-off “Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story”:
Antle and his employee Andrew Jon Sawyer, 52, allegedly helped launder over $500,000 that “they believed to be the proceeds of an operation to smuggle illegal immigrants across the Mexican border,” the DOJ stated. He is also accused of using bulk cash receipts to buy animals when he couldn’t use checks, and planned to hide the money by “inflating tourist numbers” at his Myrtle Beach company.
Both Antle and Sawyer face up to 20 years in prison, if convicted. Meredith Bybee, Charles Sammut and Jason Clay, who are accused of helping Antle traffic animals, could face up to 5 years in prison, if convicted.
Antle also faces two felony counts, including one tied to animal trafficking in Virginia. To date, he has received over 35 U.S. Department of Agriculture violations for animal mistreatment, The Hill reported.
“Tiger King” star Joe Exotic, who was also accused of mistreating animals, was resentenced to 21 years in prison earlier this year for a murder-for-hire plot to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin.