After a four-month-long investigation, authorities with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office made three arrests in connection to the viral shark dragging video
According to the FWC, 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). • One misdemeanor count of Illegal Method of Take – Shark (Second-degree misdemeanor).
Robert Lee Benac (DOB 04/2/1989) of Bradenton, Florida • Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony). • One misdemeanor count of Illegal Method of Take – Shark (Second-degree misdemeanor).
Spencer Heintz (DOB 10/14/1994) of Palmetto, Florida • Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony).
The video, which has been shared thousands of times on social media, showed three men smiling and joking while a shark was violently whipped around and dragged behind the boat.
"Look, it’s already almost dead," says one man laughing and pointing at the shark.
Wenzel's Instagram account showed him allegedly manhandling pelicans, catching illegal tarpon, and in one photo, holding a dead dog with a rope around its neck and insinuating that it will soon be fed to sharks.
“As we’ve said since this video and other images came to light, these actions have no place in Florida, where we treasure and conserve our natural resources for everyone,” said Commission Chairman Bo Rivard. “We appreciate the patience and support of the public as our law enforcement investigators worked with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office to identify a number of serious violations that will be brought to the courts for adjudication. It is our hope these charges will send a clear message to others that this kind of behavior involving our fish and wildlife will not be tolerated.”
This is a developing story and we'll update as more information is available