Florida anglers who allegedly filmed themselves brutally dragging a shark behind their boat at high speeds are now facing felony charges. Robert Benac, 28, Michael Wenzel, 21, and Spencer Heintz, 23, have been charged with aggravated animal cruelty in Florida for the video that surfaced five months ago, reports the Bradenton Herald. The video went viral after it was emailed to renowned shark fisherman Mark Quartiano, who posted it to Instagram while condemning the men's actions, reports the Miami Herald. The men in the video can be heard laughing as the shark is violently whipped around. One also laughs as it sounds like he points out the shark is nearly dead. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission then launched an investigation that culminated in this week's arrests.
"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," says FWC Chairman Bo Rivard in a release. Gov. Rick Scott denounced the shark's treatment as "inhumane" and said he was sickened by the video. FWC investigators say they were able to identify the men thanks in part to people who knew them and came forward. Benac and Wenzel face additional misdemeanor charges of using an illegal method to take a shark. In poring over the men's social media postings, investigators also uncovered clips of anglers firing guns at sharks.