HEMET (CBS/AP) — Federal officials say a Hemet couple has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling more than 900 endangered and threatened sea turtle eggs into the U.S. from Mexico.
The U.S. Justice Department said this week that Hemet residents Olga and Jose Jimenez have been charged in a four-count indictment. Each faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison and $1 million in fines if convicted of all charges.
Officials say the eggs, from Olive ridley and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, are considered a delicacy in Asia and believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
“Smuggling wildlife of any kind, especially endangered species, is something we take seriously,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, in a statement.
Olga Jimenez, 52, was ordered to appear in federal court on Dec. 16, while her 64-year-old husband is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Jan. 14, 2016.
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