NARRATOR: The U.S. Government has charged NOAA with enforcing the laws and treaties related to the conservation and protection of marine resources. The Office of Law Enforcement investigates crimes, and the Marine Forensic Lab provides scientific evidence to support their cases. Together they bring Marine Criminals to justice. Here are their stories.
January 2007. Investigators in Puerto Rico were tipped off that an organized ring of poachers was selling turtle meat on the black market. All seven species of marine turtles are protected under an international treaty.
February 24, 2007. Officers observed a suspicious vessel. On board they found a slaughtered green sea turtle, a spear gun, knives, and blood. This evidence was shipped to the Marine Forensics Lab in Charleston, South Carolina. Scientists extracted DNA from subsamples of the evidence. From this analysis, scientists conclusively identified traces of at least three individuals: one Green Sea Turtle and two Hawksbill Turtles.
This evidence was used to convict the turtle poachers on charges of illegally fishing and selling the meat and eggs of an endangered species.
Final sentence: 30 - 90 days in federal prison.
If you suspect or witness a marine crime, contact your local authorities. Marine poachers threaten the very existence of endangered species. Law Enforcement Officers and Forensic Scientists are here to stop them.