Breeding populations of the green turtle are listed as endangered species in Florida and the Pacific Coast of Mexico. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "The principal cause of the historical, worldwide decline of the green turtle is long-term harvest of eggs and adults on nesting beaches and juveniles and adults on feeding grounds. These harvests continue in some areas of the world and compromise efforts to recover this species." Location and date not specified. | Photo by Mark Sullivan, courtesy of NOAA, St. George News
HEMET, Calif. (AP) — Federal officials say a Southern California couple has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling more than 900 endangered and threatened sea turtle eggs into the U.S. from Mexico.
The U.S. Justice Department said this week that Hemet residents Olga and Jose Jimenez have been charged in a four-count indictment. Each faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison and $1 million in fines if convicted of all charges.
Officials say the eggs are considered a delicacy in Asia and believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Sea Turtle Conservancy spokeswoman told The Riverside Press-Enterprise the eggs typically bring between $3 and $5 each on the black market.
It wasn’t immediately known if the defendants have attorneys who could comment on the indictments.
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