Europe

Illegal Majorca turtle farm shut down by police

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Media captionPolice save 1,100 turtles from illegal farm

Europe's biggest illegal turtle and tortoise farm has been shut down on the Spanish island of Majorca, police say.

Civil Guard officers say they rescued 1,100 animals from a farm near Llucmajor in the south of the island, many of them endangered.

The protected species were reportedly kept in poor conditions on the site.

Two German men were arrested on suspicion of running the farm, as well as a Spanish pet shop owner in Barcelona.

The three suspects face charges of money laundering and trafficking an endangered species.

Authorities said the farm was set up to breed turtles on an industrial scale, while the pet shop owner "laundered" the species bred there for sale.

Three other people, a Spaniard and two Germans, are also under investigation.

Many turtle and tortoise species are endangered. The animals are killed for their skin, shells and meat, and some consider their eggs to be a delicacy.

Image copyright AFP/Guardia Civil
Image caption Spanish police also saved 750 eggs in the operation

Several of those turtles rescued in Majorca came from the 14 most threatened species, including the Chinese red-necked turtle, Madagascar radiated tortoise, and the Vietnamese pond turtle.

Officers say they also saved 750 eggs in the operation.

The investigation began in February 2017 after authorities found a shipment of several protected turtle species at Palma airport.

Documents did not match the animals, and so they were seized - eventually leading police to the Llucmajor site.


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