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Bags of turtle eggs seized on the coastal highway in Oaxaca.

Highway checkpoint nets 24,000 turtle eggs in Oaxaca

The repeat offender is believed to be one of the region’s largest traffickers

Environmental officers and state police have seized 24,000 olive ridley turtle eggs at a checkpoint on Highway 200 near Salina Cruz, Oaxaca.

The seizure occurred during the second arrival of turtles for the 2019-2020 nesting season on the beach at Morro Ayuta, one of the most important nesting sites in the world for the olive ridley marine turtle.

The federal environmental protection agency, Profepa, said 48 black plastic bags containing 24,000 fresh eggs were found during the search of a vehicle.

Officers also seized the vehicle and arrested its driver, suspected to be one the chief traffickers in turtle eggs in the region.

“This seizure is one of the largest we have carried out,” Profepa said. “What’s more, the person [apprehended] is apparently a repeat offender and presumably one of the largest gatherers and distributors of turtle eggs in the region.”

The maximum penalty for trafficking in turtle eggs is nine years in prison and a fine of up to 300,000 pesos (US $15,000).

Although the law protecting turtles is enforced along the Pacific coast of Oaxaca and in most of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region, officials turn a blind eye to turtle egg commerce in Juchitán, where the eggs are openly sold in street markets.

Although this year’s seizure was large, it was not the largest this year. Officials seized 47,000 turtle eggs near Mazunte, Oaxaca, earlier this month.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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