Man, 32, charged for allegedly taking turtles
A 32-year-old man faces charges in federal court after he was reportedly caught with two young green sea turtles he allegedly took from the ocean in December last year.
Dolland Lalmol was charged earlier this month with two counts of possession of a threatened species, both as misdemeanors, according to documents filed in the District Court of Guam. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment Tuesday.
Should the case go to trial, Lalmol is due back in court in October for a pretrial conference but in the meantime, he is on pretrial release.
Possessing, transporting or taking an endangered species from the ocean is a federal crime.
Lt. Mark Aguon, conservation officer and supervisor for the local Department of Agriculture’s law enforcement division, attended Tuesday’s court hearing. He said his office worked with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s law enforcement division to take the case to federal court.
The case stems from an incident in December 2015, when Lalmol was reportedly pulled over for speeding, according to Aguon. Guam Police Department officers saw two green sea turtles in the back seat of Lalmol’s car and alerted the agriculture department’s conservation officers, Aguon said.
The two turtles weighed between 25 to 40 pounds each and were about three to five years old, Aguon said. Lalmol reportedly caught the two turtles and was headed back home with them, Aguon said. In the backseat of the car, they each had a flipper that was punctured and the flippers appeared to have been tied together with rubber, though one of the turtles was able to break loose from the rubber, according to Aguon.
“It looked like it tore its skin and got loose in the vehicle,” he said.
The two turtles reportedly found in Lalmol’s car are two of five turtles the agriculture department was able to rehabilitate in the past year, Aguon said.
Aguon said many of the green sea turtles that are around Guam are here to forage or graze, but they eventually go back to where they came from.
He advised any residents who may encounter a green sea turtle to leave it alone and call the conservation officer’s hotline at 688-3297.