A total of eleven people were apprehended the previous week for environmental crimes by the Environmental Operational Group of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, in Tortuguero National Park and surrounding areas, as part of the operation called MYDAS.
These are two people who were caught hunting cusucos or armadillos, three linked to the use and transport of illegal wood and six others who were harpooning turtles (spear fishing) inside the national park.
During the operation – in which thirteen GOA officers, eight ACTo officers, an ACLAC officer (Amistad Conservation Area-Caribbean) and an Environmental Prosecutor participated – in addition, chainsaws and wood were also seized with an estimated value of ₡ 40 millions.
“Operation MYDAS, carried out during the first days of July, aims to strengthen surveillance to attack related crimes, especially harpooning of turtles, hunting and illegal logging in the province of Limón. It had phases of planning, execution and monitoring of environmental crimes reported inside and outside the Protected Wild Areas in Tortuguero, “said Miguel Madrigal, head of the Environmental Operational Group (GOA).
The Minister of Environment and Energy, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, indicated that “in the face of the increased incidence of this type of crime in the framework of the national emergency following COVID-19, we will continue to strengthen the operations of the specialized Environmental Police Group of MINAE-SINAC in different parts of the country. “
Turtle harpoon. During the operation, six subjects were detained while they were harpooning turtles (spear fishing) inside the national park.
Both the captain of the boat, surnamed Alvarado, and the other five crew members with the last names Salguero, Núñez, Gómez, Varela and Céspedes were transferred to the Guápiles Prosecutor’s Office as appropriate, remaining under the order of the Courts of Justice.
Illegal wood. Two people – surnames Aguilar and Vargas – were discovered sawing illegally sourced wood. They were subsequently presented to the Guápiles Flagrancy Prosecutor’s Office for violating the Forest Law.
Another subject with the last name Álvarez who was transporting illegal wood was also apprehended and handed over to the Flagrancia Prosecutor’s Office along with the confiscated assets –a pickup vehicle and the wood he was transporting-
Later, a large quantity of wood was found on the property where the detainee lives, which was also seized on the spot.
Illegal hunting. Two other individuals with surnames Rojas and Corrales were transferred to the Guápiles Prosecutor’s Office for illegal hunting. At the time of the arrest, one owned an armadillo and a white weapon (cusuco) and the other a rifle, machete, and focus.
During the operation, several suspicious boats were seized without finding findings related to environmental crimes. These cases will be followed up.
Sanctions for environmental crimes. For hunting, possession and illegal carrying of weapons, the penalty ranges from three months to five years in prison, while for crimes of Violation of the Wildlife Law, people are exposed to penalties of six months to one year in prison. However, it could increase from one to three years, if it is an endangered animal. For crimes related to the Violation of the Forest Law, prison terms are: for the crime of illegal prosecution, from 3 months to 3 years, and for illegal acquisition, from 1 month to 3 years.