Monday, March 5, 2007

Shark-Smuggling Bust Nets $1 Million for Habitat Protection

Leopard sharks in the San Francisco Bay Area will benefit from fines totaling nearly a million U.S. dollars—money resulting from the bust of a massive shark-smuggling ring that had been operating out of a local church. Fines collected from six people convicted of the crimes will be used to create a habitat restoration fund for the sharks, federal prosecutors announced last week. Over the span of more than a decade, the smugglers had pulled thousands of baby leopard sharks from the waters near San Francisco, California. The animals were sold alive to pet stores and private buyers throughout the United States and abroad. "It's the largest investigation of shark poaching in U.S. history," said Roy Torres, a special agent with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service's Office of Law Enforcement in Pacific Grove, California.

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