By Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Three men have been indicted as part of an ongoing federal investigation into environmental crimes committed on protected land in southern Puerto Rico, authorities announced Thursday.

Two of the men are accused of dumping fill material into the waters and wetlands of the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in the southern town of Salinas from June 2018 to December 2023, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The men operated and managed a nearby resort that also served as a short-term rental.

A third man was charged with discharging fill material into the wetlands and building an unauthorized boat dock. He also operated a guest house nearby, officials said.

The indictments come as a growing number of Puerto Ricans decry the illegal developments built in Puerto Rico’s second largest estuary. Activists say developers have decimated mangrove forests and stripped that part of the island of a natural barrier that protects the shore from hurricane storm surge.

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