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February 20, 2024Jacksonville, FL, United StatesCyber Crimes

Florida woman pleads guilty to conspiracy to create, distribute animal crush videos

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Jacksonville investigation led to a Florida woman’s guilty plea to conspiracy to create and distribute animal crush videos.

Nicole Danielle Devilbiss, 35, of Jacksonville, faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Animal crushing is defined under federal criminal law as “actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.”

According to the plea agreement, in September 2023, HSI Jacksonville investigators received information regarding an individual who was identified as an administrator of a social media app group chat that was dedicated to the abuse, torture and death of various-aged monkeys. The HSI investigation revealed that numerous people involved in the group exchanged hundreds of messages about the abuse and torture of monkeys, as well as videos depicting their abuse and torture. The purpose of the group was to fund, view, distribute and promote animal crush videos that depicted the torture, murder and sadistic mutilation of animals, specifically baby and adult monkeys. The co-conspirators agreed to create animal crush videos using videographers and animals in other countries, including Indonesia, which would then be sent to the United States. The group’s name changed multiple times to innocuous names that were inconsistent with the goals and interests of the group, which appeared to be an effort to avoid detection by law enforcement.

This investigation led to the identification of Devilbiss as a member of that group. Law enforcement authorities obtained exchanged messages and videos that involved Devilbiss.

Devilbiss and her co-conspirators collectively funded the creation of animal crush videos using online payment apps. Co-conspirators outside the United States received the funding and used it create animal crush videos. Between April 14, 2022, and continuing through May 23, 2023, Devilbiss sent at least three payments to her co-conspirators using an online payment application for the purpose of funding the creation of animal crush videos. The IP addresses from Devilbiss’ transactions were tied to her internet account at her residence.

A federal search warrant was executed at her residence and numerous electronic devices were seized. Devilbiss’s devices were reviewed and analyzed. Law enforcement officials found numerous videos depicting the torture of monkeys.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office provided assistance to HSI during the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ashley Washington and Elisibeth Adams are prosecuting the case.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.