Shark Draggers Charged with Animal Cruelty

ABC News reports that a trio of shark killers will face justice for their crimes.

Public attention first came to this incident when one of the three suspects sent a video of their abuse to Mark Quartiano, a shark hunter. He posted it to his Instagram while condemning the group for their heinous actions. After the video of the three men dragging the fish behind them in a speed boat to its death went viral, they were finally charged by the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office. Robert Lee Benac, 28, Spencer Heintz, 23, and Michael Wenzel, 21, are all facing several counts of misdemeanors and felonies, including two counts each of aggravated animal cruelty, with Benac and Wenzel additionally charged with illegal method of take—shark.

Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducted a thorough search of the three suspects’ social media profiles prior to the arrest, collaborating with several shark experts to be sure of what to charge them with. “Florida has no tolerance for this mistreatment, and I am proud of the hard work of FWC law enforcement during this investigation to hold these individuals accountable for their horrific actions,” Governor Rick Scott said in a statement earlier in the week.

Those involved with the case hope that the results will send a strong message to those would abuse animals in the future, especially fish and wildlife.