Police Search Truck Full Of Plastic Bags — And Find These Inside

There were SO MANY.

Earlier this week, the Federal Police of Mexico pulled over a pickup truck on a highway in Oaxaca because the driver was swerving outside the lanes.

The officers soon learned that wasn’t the only thing gone wrong.

sea turtle egg bust mexico
Policia Federal de Mexico

The truck’s bed was stuffed with black trash bags — and when the officers opened them, they found hundreds upon hundreds of sea turtle eggs inside. The man didn’t have documentation allowing him to have the eggs, so the officers arrested him on the spot.

There were over 22,000 eggs total, marking it the largest turtle egg contraband in Mexican history. Lexie Beach, communications coordinator for Sea Turtle Conservancy, said it’s very likely the eggs belonged to olive ridley turtles, a vulnerable species often found in warm-water coasts of the Atlantic.

sea turtle eggs bust mexico
Policia Federal de Mexico

Looking at the sheer number of eggs from the bust, it’s likely the suspect caused a significant upset in the ecosystem he took them from, Beach said.

“It is a very large number of eggs,” Beach told The Dodo. “Olive ridley can lay over 110 eggs per nest, so this could represent the loss of over 200 nests.”

sea turtle egg poaching mexico
Policia Federal de Mexico

Unfortunately, turtle egg poaching is very common across Central and Latin America, where eggs are used as food and in pseudo-medicine. In other parts of the world, their shells are used in ceremonies or turned into jewelry.

Despite legal protections in many countries, poaching and trafficking continue to be a threat to most species of sea turtles.

“[In Mexico], they are usually sold to bars or restaurants and eaten raw, or the raw egg is actually put into a beer,” Beach said. “In some countries, sea turtle eggs are prized as an aphrodisiac.”

sea turtle egg bust mexico
Policia Federal de Mexico

Since the eggs have been taken from their nests and transported in the heat, it’s likely they won’t ever hatch, Beach said.

“The chances of them successfully hatching are nearly zero,” Beach said. “If they are able to identify the beach they came from, they may still try to get them back to that beach and bury them in the off chance of a few still being viable.”

turtle egg poaching mexico
A young olive ridley sea turtle | Shutterstock

While the turtles may not make it, the officers are hopeful they can find justice — and prevent other animals from falling victim to the same poacher.

“The possession and transportation [of wildlife] for commercial purposes is a serious crime,” officers said on Facebook. “The detainee and others responsible could reach up to nine years in prison.”

To help protect sea turtles in the wild, you can make a donation to Sea Turtle Conservancy.