Costa Rican police arrest 8 over turtle conservationist murder


The 655-pound, seven foot-long leatherback turtle was released back into the water Sunday after dramatic rescue.


Cameron Spencer

Police in Costa Rica arrested eight people Wednesday in connection with the murder of Jairo Mora, a conservationist who patrolled beaches on the country's Caribbean coast to protect leatherback turtle nests from poachers.

Police nabbed six men and two women in early morning raids on homes in Moin, Limon and Guapiles, according to The Tico Times. A ninth suspect fled and remains at large.

The men have been charged with participating in Mora’s murder.

Mora was kidnapped along with four foreign turtle-watching volunteers — three Americans and one Spaniard — who escaped unharmed, according to The Associated Press.

He was found dead on Moin beach in the northeast province of Limon on May 31. He had his hands tied behind his back and showed signs of being brutally beaten.

Mora’s longtime friend, Vanessa Lizano, told The Tico Times that she believes Mora’s murder was related to his anti-poaching work. “Poaching in Limon is a big organization. It’s a lot bigger than people think it is. I think it does have to do with poaching, and it wasn’t just a criminal gang,” Lizano said.

However, Costa Rica's director of judicial investigations, Francisco Segura, said officials believed the motive for Mora's murder was robbery.

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