Three charged in Florida viral shark abuse case

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Michael Wenzel, Lee Benac and Spencer Heintz were all charged in the shark-dragging video.

FLORIDA — Charges have been filed in connection to a viral video posted several months ago showing a shark being dragged behind a boat at high speed.

Michael Wenzel, Robert Benac and Spencer Heintz have all been charged with two counts of felony aggravated animal cruelty, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office announced  on Tuesday.

In addition, Wenzel and Benac were also charged with illegal method of take- shark.

The charges were the result of a four-month long investigation that began after someone shared the sickening video with shark hunter Mark “the Shark” Quartiano. Authorities said they also found other “disturbing images” that showed a “disregard for Florida’s natural resources.”

“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.

“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.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott praised the FWC for holding the men accountable, saying the state will not tolerate such abuse.