Three US men in shark-dragging video charged with animal cruelty

Gov. Scott Applauds FWC for Investigative Efforts to Protect Florida Wildlife

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office announced charges against three individuals connected to the video of a shark being dragged behind a boat at high speed.

The suspects and their charges are as follows: Michael Wenzel (DOB 06/07/1996) of Palmetto, Florida • Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony).

The FWC chairman says he hopes this sends a message to everyone, that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.

He penned a letter to the FWC saying he wants to make sure the state's fishing regulations and statutes strictly prohibited "such inhumane acts".

The three men have since bonded out of the Hillsborough County Jail.

Robert Lee Benac, 28, of Bradenton, is charged with two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one misdemeanor count of illegal method of take - shark.

The Florida boaters were seen the viral video dragging a shark at a "high speed" through the water, prompting outcries of "animal lynching" from some activists.

Wenzel was booked into the Pinellas County jail at 12:30 p.m. and freed at 7 p.m. after posting $4,250 bail, according to records.

Three Florida men laughing in an online video as a shark gets dragged behind a high-speed boat have been charged with animal cruelty, local authorities in the southeastern USA state said on Wednesday. Authorities said they also found other "disturbing images" that showed a "disregard for Florida's natural resources".

South Florida charter fishing captain and celebrity shark hunter Mark "Mark The Shark" Quartiano shared the video on Instagram over the summer, drawing attention to the case.

One man can be heard saying: 'Look, it's already nearly dead'.

WESH 2 News in Orlando said they had obtained a related photo that shows what appears to be the same shark, ripped to pieces, and being held by two men.

"I was outraged by the sickening video of a shark being horribly abused earlier this year", Scott said in a tweet, "and I am proud of the hard work of (FWC) law enforcement during this investigation".



Other news