Oaxaca, Mexico - Environmental prosecutors say three suspects have been detained in the southern Pacific coast state of Oaxaca with more than 10,000 illegally harvested eggs from protected sea turtles.
Sea turtles are a protected species in Mexico, but their eggs have long been considered a delicacy and an aphrodisiac by some consumers. An egg sells for as much as $60 pesos on the black market, meaning a single nest can yield $6,000 pesos.
Over the past fifteen years, Mexico has more than doubled the number of police and troops working to save turtles in an effort to better protect the species and their eggs on the nation's beaches. This month, as the egg laying season reaches its height, conservation groups are intensifying efforts to save the turtles.
Last Thursday, the Attorney General for Environmental Protection said that police found two women and a man with 10,375 olive ridley turtle eggs during a passenger bus inspection in the town of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec. The suspects said they were traveling to the coastal city of Salina Cruz.Sea turtles were declared a protected species in 1990 and are protected under the country's law. The suspects face prison terms of up to nine years if convicted of possessing the eggs.