• Trucks on the beach riled residents, concerned with sea turtles hatching nearby. Photo: Facebook/ No más coches en la Playa de Progreso

The 14 offenders who were caught driving vehicles on a stretch of Progreso’s beach a year ago have been fined 3 million pesos, collectively, for putting sea turtles and their nesting areas at risk.

In a communiqué, the Federal Office of Environmental Protection (Profepa) announced the punishment for using the El Playón coastal strip as a street.

In 12 cases, the fine was 226,470 pesos each; another offender was fined 188,725 pesos and another one was assessed 101,911.50 pesos.

Among the offenders were two tractor trailer cabs that were captured in a snapshot and video. The fleet owner, Mérida-based Pitic, promised to investigate.

The sanctions were determined considering the seriousness of the infraction, the economic conditions of the offender, his recidivism, if any, the intentional or negligent nature of the action, as well as the benefit obtained by the offender.

Citizens have been divided over their rights to drive on the beach. Frustrated residents have installed makeshift barriers to block cars, only to have authorities remove them.

Resident want more than signs, and they have mobilized on a Facebook page, “No more cars on Progreso Beach.” On the page, with has over 3,400 followers, photos and videos of thoughtless drivers are posted.

The degradation and deterioration of their habitat is one of the main factors that affect sea turtles. Sand in compacted by the weight of the vehicles, preventing nesting females from digging a nest to deposit their eggs.