Photo: Endangered Puerto Rico Sea Turtle
Puerto Rican officials have charged eight Puerto Ricans with illegally possessing and selling the endangered sea turtle for food. The group faces felony charges bases on the violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Two women and six women were indicted, they are residents of Arroyo and Patillas and range in age from 30-to-50-years old. The group faces a maximum of five years in prison each with a $250,000 fine.
The waters around Puerto Rico are designated as a critical habitat for the green sea turtle. The green sea turtle population has declined by 48-65 percent over the past century. Puerto Rico is also home to nesting sites for the endangered leatherback sea turtle, the largest species of turtle in the world.
This is the first investigation and arrests for the newly formed Puerto Rico Environmental Crimes Task Force that jointly worked with U.S. authorities.
Puerto Rico has six national wildlife refuges (Cabo Rojo, Culebra, Desecheo, Laguna Cartagena, Navassa Island, Vieques) and is home to 25 endangered and threatened animal species, 21 of which are found nowhere else on earth.