Florida man Jimmy Wayne Hammonds, known as “The Monkey Whisperer,” was charged Wednesday for allegedly trafficking primates across the United States.
Hammonds allegedly trafficked a capuchin monkey named Barack from Florida to California in September 2017. The person who received the monkey was not legally allowed to have it, according to the indictment that United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez unsealed Wednesday.
The monkey arrived at the person’s house in California around Oct. 11, 2017, where it stayed until law enforcement seized it in January 2018, according to the indictment.
The monkey was also transported through individuals who were also not legally allowed to have possession of a primate. Hammonds is being charged with conspiracy, trafficking, submitting a false record in violation of the Lacey Act, violations of the Endangered Species Act and witness tampering.
Hammonds owned an LLC called “The Monkey Whisperer” where he bred and sold wildlife. Hammonds also illegally sold cotton-top tamarins to people in Alabama, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Cotton-top tamarins are an endangered species.
Hammonds allegedly told a witness in August 2020 to lie to authorities and submitted false records to a law enforcement officer in order to get away with his illegal monkey smuggling.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were the ones involved in investigating this case.