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Three Men Charged In Illegal Freshwater Turtle Harvests

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A vendor (C) waits for customers displaying turtles at a market in Jakarta on February 5, 2008. A surge in demand for exotic freshwater turtles and tortoises in Southeast Asia is fuelling rampant illegal trade in the animals in Indonesia, wildlife experts warned recently. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia said its investigators discovered that 48 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises were sold in Indonesia's capital Jakarta and the vast majority were illegally obtained. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo: EWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

A vendor (C) waits for customers displaying turtles at a market in Jakarta on February 5, 2008. A surge in demand for exotic freshwater turtles and tortoises in Southeast Asia is fuelling rampant illegal trade in the animals in Indonesia, wildlife experts warned recently. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia said its investigators discovered that 48 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises were sold in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and the vast majority were illegally obtained. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo: EWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

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LAKELAND (CBSMiami/AP) – Three men, in central Florida, have been charged with several felonies and misdemeanors for the alleged illegal harvest, selling and buying of 2,100 pounds of freshwater turtles.

Investigators in Polk and Seminole counties caught the men poaching turtles on lakes and in the St. Johns River, according to Lt. George Wilson.

The turtles were reportedly transported and sold illegally to a turtle farm in Okeechobee.

The commercial harvest of all native wild turtles was banned by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2009, citing the overharvesting of turtles as food elsewhere in the world.

Wilson says he hopes the arrests help “ensure everyone has the opportunity to see freshwater turtles in the wild and harvest them recreationally.”

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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