Three charged in shark dragging death video

Three men have been charged by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Hillsborough County State Attorney after dragging a shark behind their boat.

Michael Wenzel, Robert Lee Benac and Spencer Heintz have each been charged with two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty, a third-degree felony. Wenzel and Benac were each charged with one misdemeanor count of Illegal Method of Take – Shark, a second-degree misdemeanor.

The three men filmed themselves as they pulled the live shark at high speed behind their boat.

A post shared by THE SHARK HUNTER (@marktheshark) on

In the disturbing video, the shark could be seen twisting and crashing in waves as the three men laughed at its demise.

The FWC was alerted to the video July 24 and identified the suspects.

Several of the suspects had posted other disturbing videos and photos showing possible animal abuse, including pouring beer through live shark’s gills and shooting a hammerhead shark (disturbing link) in the gills.

After a four-month long investigation into the video and other photos the FWC and the Hillsborough State Attorney office announced the charges.

“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.”

Andrew H. Warren, State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit said, “The State Attorney’s Office is committed to holding these men accountable for having engaged in such senseless and unjustifiable animal cruelty. We thank the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for their work in investigating these crimes, and we stand with them, along with Florida’s fishing and hunting communities, and all those who cherish our precious natural resources, in condemning the torture of our marine wildlife.”

Three charged in shark dragging death
A photo of the three suspects facing charges as identified by everipedia.org.

The suspects and their charges are as follows:

Michael Wenzel (top left) 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 (top right) 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 (Bottom Left) of Palmetto, Florida
• Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony).

The fourth individual in the video provided information to authorities and will not be facing charges.



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