SAN DIEGO (CN) - A Southern California couple face up to 50 years in federal after pleading guilty to smuggling 911 endangered sea turtle eggs into the United States.
Jose Jimenez, 64, and Olga Jimenez, 52, both of Hemet smuggled the Kemp's ridley and Olive ridley eggs into the United States from Tijuana in coolers, hidden under shrimp and ice.
Turtle eggs can bring $100 to $300 apiece from Asian consumers, who consider them an aphrodisiac, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement after the Friday guilty pleas.
The Jimenezes also must pay $9,000 to the government of Mexico for stealing its natural resources.
The endangered sea turtles can grow to 100 lbs. Their eggs are easy to steal because they return to nesting grounds en masse, where the females lay as many as 100 eggs in a clutch, then bury them and return to the ocean.
The Jimenezes pleaded guilty to conspiracy, smuggling, illegal importation, and unlawful trafficking in wildlife.
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