Mexican Business Owner Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison Over Sea Turtle Products

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Denver (AP) A man who pleaded guilty to smuggling sea turtle skins to make boots for world leaders has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Esteban Lopez Estrada was also sentenced today in U.S. district court in Denver to three years of supervised release.

Lopez Estrada is among seven people who have pleaded guilty in the case since their arrests Sept. 6. Three others remain at large.

Among the co-defendants is Martin Villegas Terrones, who made boots for former Mexican President Vicente Fox, Fox's bodyguards and cabinet members. He also made boots for fox's friends, including President Bush.

Authorities say Lopez Estrada sold exotic leathers, boots and belts made from sea turtle, caiman, ostrich and lizard skins through his business in Mexico.

It is illegal under U.S. law to commercially trade endangered species and Mexico bans the sale of sea turtle products.