10,000 Starving Crocodiles On Honduras Farm After US Treasury Freezes Assets

More than 10,000 starving crocodiles are eagerly awaiting help on a farm in Honduras. The wealthy family that owns the crocs had their assets frozen by the United States government after being accused of laundering money for drug traffickers.

The more than 10,000 crocodiles reside on a 70-acre farm known as the Cocodrilos Continental. The reptile farm is located near the city of San Pedro Sula in San Manuel. The farm in Honduras also boasts seven “scrawny” lions in cages, according to a report by MSN.

“The crocodiles and lions are dying of hunger, and we are too because we haven’t been paid the last two weeks,” one Cocodrilos Continental farm worker told the media. “Forty animals have already died. They were taken away in boxes by trucks to be buried.”

The crocodile farm in Honduras is owned by the Rosenthal family. The owners are reportedly part of a powerful “clan” in the country and hold interests in the media, banking, agriculture, real estate, livestock, and tourism industries.

The United States Treasury Department began targeting the Rosenthal family on October 7. The 79-year-old patriarch of the clan, Jaime Rosenthal, his son, Yani Rosenthal, and nephew, Yankel Rosenthal, are all accused of money laundering for drug traffickers, the International Business Times reports.

The asset freeze, which has impacted the 10,000 crocodiles, banned businesses in America from conducting deals with the Rosenthal family or their various businesses. The Honduras Banking Commission has ordered the family’s bank, Banco Continental, to be liquidated. The bank is headquartered in San Pedro Sula.

Yankel Rosenthal was arrested in Miami the day before the Treasury Department announced the money laundering charges and froze the assets of the family. The actions taken by the U.S. federal agency has reportedly shocked Honduras. The citizens had reportedly considered one of the wealthiest families in the country to be untouchable from legal repercussions.

Jaime Rosenthal was vice-president of the Honduras from 1986 to 1989. Yani Rosentahl was a government minister from 2006 to 2009.

Even though the crocodile farm was not on the list of seven businesses owned by the Rosenthal family subjected to the asset freezing, the reptiles found themselves being caught up in the legal wranglings swirling around the massive business empire owned by the family.

A Honduras state Forest Conservation Institute representative stated that the executives running Cocodrilos Continental told law enforcement officials that the asset freezing had led to the inability to purchase feed and to pay workers. Animal protection groups and the local municipality are currently working on developing temporary and emergency care measures to ensure the feeding of the animals until the issue is resolved. One possible solution posed was to allow the crocodile farm staffers to work for food while the legal battle involving the farm was assessed.

Last week, the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF) delivered about 3,000 pounds of chicken meat to the Honduran crocodile farm, but workers refused to give the reptiles the food until they were paid $340 each — their standard monthly wages.

“The 3,000 pounds doesn’t amount to much because a crocodile eats the equivalent of half a horse in a day,” one staffer told the media. “But at least something is being done.”

Security guards have been sent to the Cocodrilos Continental farm to protect the approximately 10,000 American crocodiles roaming in about 135 pools and waterside habitats on the property. About 60 baby crocodiles are now included in the number of livestock on the farm. An on-site clinic, which was supposed to be caring for about 70 ill crocodiles, has now reportedly ceased to operate.

The crocodiles on the farm were used in the meat export and skin export business, with many of the products being sent to the United States. Species preservation was also part of the croc farm’s reported mission. The Rosenthal business reportedly operated on a budget of around $1 million per year.

[Image via Shutterstock.com]