By James A. Foley
Eight people were arrested in Puerto Rico in connection with the illegal trade of endangered sea turtles. The turtles were reportedly sold for human consumption.
The arrested men were all residents of Patillas and Arroyo in the southeast of the island nation. The oldest of the arrested was Miguel Rivera Delgado, 55. The youngest person arrested in connection with the turtle trafficking was Ricardo Dejesus Alamo, 33.
The men were all indicted on felony and misdemeanor charges for the illegal take, possession and sale of engendered sea turtles and their parts for human consumption.
Authorities believe the men are connected with the sale of meat from 15 hawkbill sea turtles and seven endangered green sea turtles. The arrests come after U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) launched an undercover operation in 2011 to investigate the illegal trade of sea turtles.
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are the most important U.S. nesting sites for the hawkbill turtle. Each year, as many as 1,000 hawkbill nests are established on Mona Island, a small landmass in between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Green sea turtle populations have declined by as much as 65 percent over the past century, the U.S. Fish and
"Hawksbill and green sea turtles are protected by Puerto Rican law, nationally under the Endangered Species Act as well as internationally under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna)," said FWS agent David Pharo. More....