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Scaly brown sea turtles swimming in an aquarium
Information icon Hawksbill turtles. Photo by Christopher Doemel, Creative Commons.

Service, Customs Seize Illegal Turtle Shells in Miami

Law enforcement officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently intercepted boxes and boxes of endangered sea turtle shells smuggled through the Miami International Airport.

“It took probably 100 sea turtles to be killed to make this illegal shipment happen and that’s a very rough estimate,” said Aurelia Skipwith, the Service’s director. “Sea turtles are sometimes illegally killed for their shells, meat, eggs which have a commercial value on the black market.”

The shells, displayed at an August 13 news conference in Miami, were captured while in transit from the Caribbean to Asia. They were mislabeled as plastics and painted blue. Their value is unknown.

Skipwith said 65 of the shells came from hawksbill turtles and 35 from green sea turtles. Both turtles are listed as federally endangered.

The investigation continues.

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