Man faces federal charges in killing of sea turtle


Federal charges were filed on Thursday against a man found to be in possession of Atlantic Green Sea Turtle parts on South Padre Island.

Baldemar Veliz allegedly admitted to Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens that he caught, killed, and butchered an Atlantic Green Sea Turtle at the Port Mansfield Jetties in August, according to a criminal complaint filed on Nov. 7.

The man’s alleged actions were in violation of the Endangered Species Act. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, the sea turtles are currently under threat due to adverse conditions created by disease, fishing gear, ocean pollution, the degradation of nesting habitats, and the harvesting of eggs.

The intentional killing of the sea turtles is also listed by the agency as a major threat to the species.

According to the document, game wardens working in collaboration with NOAA responded to a complaint of subjects capturing and killing sea turtle at the Port Mansfield Jetties and later located Veliz in possession of turtle shells.

An August report from The Brownsville Herald states that the case was transferred into the hands of the National Marines Fisheries, implicating Veliz in the violation of the Endangered Species Act and setting him up for federal charges.

State authorities who located the individuals told the Herald that “trying to conceal the meat, the individuals put it in a plastic bag in the sand dunes. The contents of the bag appeared to be meat from two sea turtles, which included two sets of turtle hind and fore flippers.”