Three charged after shocking shark-dragging video surfaces in Florida

Written by on December 13, 2017 in Critter Crimes - No comments

Three men now face animal cruelty charges after a shark was dragged behind a speeding boat.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office announced the charges Tuesday after a four-month investigation into what officials called a “shocking disregard” for the life of the shark.

“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,” Commission Chairman Bo Rivard said in a statement. “…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.”

The case went viral after a sport fisherman caught wind of the video.

He posted it online in late July and slammed the people responsible.

Andrew H. Warren, State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, condemned the “torture of our marine wildlife.”

“The State Attorney’s Office is committed to holding these men accountable for having engaged in such senseless and unjustifiable animal cruelty,” Warren said in a statement.

Investigators said they poured through the suspects’ social media activity, conducted numerous interviews and spoke to shark experts before laying charges.

Michael Wenzel, 21, of Palmetto, Florida is charged with:
• 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, 28, of Bradenton, Florida is charged with:
• Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony).
• One misdemeanor count of Illegal Method of Take – Shark (Second-degree misdemeanor).

Spencer Heintz, 23, of Palmetto, Florida is charged with:
• Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony).

Photo marktheshark/Instagram

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About the Author

Dawn Walton

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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