Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Puerto Rico Police have harrested eight Puerto Ricans for selling meat from endangered sea turtles.

The U.S. Justice Department said Friday in a press release that those in custody - six men and two women - have been accused by a federal Grand Jury for incidents that occurred in 2011 in the southern Puerto Rican cities of Patillas and Arroyo.

The suspects arrested Thursday were identified as Roberto Guzman Herpin, Madeline Montes Santiago, Edwin Alamo Silva, Iris Lebron Montañez, Juan Soto Rodriguez, Jose Javier Rodriguez Sanchez, Ricardo de Jesus Alamo and Miguel Rivera Delgado.

The U.S. agency said that those under arrest face charges of taking, possessing and selling endangered hawksbill sea turtles and green sea turtles and their parts for human consumption.

The charges of selling the meat are serious since it had a value of over $350.

The hawksbill sea turtle is a marine turtle on the list of animals in danger of extinction and has been protected by federal law since 1970.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the Justice Department said.

EFE