600 Florida turtles saved from poaching ring; 2 men arrested

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FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Florida wildlife officials say they’ve arrested two men for poaching thousands of turtles and selling them.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release says 39-year-old Michael Boesenberg and 23-year-old Michael Clemons were arrested this week and face multiple poaching-related charges.

Investigators say Boesenberg led a well-organized ring of wildlife traffickers, operating mostly in Lee County. Poached turtles sold wholesale for up to $300 each and retailed for as much as $10,000 each in Asia.

The FWC documented more than 4,000 turtles illegally taken and sold over a 6-month period, including Florida box turtles, Eastern box turtles, striped mud turtles, Florida mud turtles, chicken turtles, Florida softshell turtles, Gulf Coast spiny softshell turtles, spotted turtles and diamondback terrapins.

Officers executed a search warrant in August. Over 600 turtles were returned to the wild.

Boesenberg and Clemons were being held at the Lee County jail. Jail records didn’t list attorneys for them.

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