FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA — Bhagavan Mahamayavi Antle a/k/a Doc Antle, 62, and Andrew Jon Sawyer a/k/a Omar Sawyer, 52, both of Myrtle Beach, have been charged in a federal complaint with money laundering crimes involving more than $500,000.
According to the complaint, which was unsealed today in a federal courtroom in Florence, Antle is the owner and operator of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S), also known as the Myrtle Beach Safari. The Myrtle Beach Safari is a 50-acre wildlife tropical preserve in Myrtle Beach. Sawyer is Antle’s employee and business associate. The complaint alleges that over the last four months, Antle and Sawyer laundered $505,000 in cash they believed to be the proceeds of an operation to smuggle illegal immigrants across the Mexican border into the United States.
Specifically, according to the complaint, Antle and Sawyer would launder the cash by providing checks from a business controlled by Antle and a business controlled by Sawyer. Those checks falsely claimed they were remitted for construction work being performed at the Myrtle Beach Safari, when in reality the checks were simply a means to allow the recipients to appear to have legitimate income. In exchange, Antle and Sawyer received a 15% fee of any amount laundered.
The complaint alleges that Antle discussed his plan to conceal the cash he received by inflating tourist numbers at the Myrtle Beach Safari, and that in the past he had used bulk cash receipts to purchase animals for which he could not use checks.
Antle and Sawyer each face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for the charges in the complaint, and they are currently detained.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Derek A. Shoemake and Amy Bower are prosecuting the case.
U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis stated that all charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.