Galapagos tortoise, iguana traffickers jailed for one year

Galapagos tortoise
Galapagos tortoise. (Photo: Wikipedia)
QUITO  — Three people were sentenced by an Ecuadoran court Friday to a year in prison for trafficking 84 giant tortoises and five golden iguanas from the Galapagos, a fragile ecosystem registered as a Natural World Heritage site.اضافة اعلان

The defendants pleaded guilty and were also fined $29,000, the national prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The trio were arrested in June when the Ecuadoran Navy boarded the boat in which they were traveling and found five bags filled with the golden land iguanas and nine boxes containing the San Cristobal giant tortoises, seven of which were dead.

The animals were being "transferred from the Galapagos to be traded in Guayaquil," the prosecutor's office said.

It said a golden iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) can sell for up to $20,000 on the black market, while the tortoises — of the endangered Chelonoidis chathamensis species — can sell for up to $5,000 each.

Located nearly 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are a biosphere reserve and home to unique flora and fauna.

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