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Florida authorities seize hundreds of pounds of illegally-obtained berries, arrest 15 suspects: police

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Florida authorities recently arrested 15 suspects in connection to illegal berry harvesting in the Sunshine State.

Indian River County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests Wednesday. The office said that the unlawful harvesting of saw palmetto berries has been an issue since August.

The berries themselves are legal and have a variety of health benefits, but the suspects are accused of trespassing and theft.

“This vital natural resource is used for health benefits and is sold as a natural supplement,” Indian River County Sheriff’s Office explained in a press release. “Unfortunately, some folks like [to] plunder state and private property.”

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Truck full of bags of stolen berries

Officials say the unlawful harvesting of saw palmetto berries has been an issue since August. (Indian River County Sheriff’s Office)

“Problems from this illegal activity include trespassing, theft, and damaging property such as fences and posts being cut and at times causing livestock to wander onto roadways,” authorities added.

Officers have recovered hundreds of pounds of berries in total. Saw palmetto berries can be used to treat  medical conditions such as migraines, pelvic pain and persistent coughing, according to FOX 35 Orlando.

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Large bags of stolen berries

Saw palmetto berries can be used to treat conditions such as migraines, pelvic pain and persistent coughing. (Indian River County Sheriff’s Office)

Police urge residents to contact them if they notice any suspicious activity. The illegal berry picking has been observed along the Sebastian River Preserve and the corridor of Interstate 95.

Indian River County Sheriff’s Office is actively investigating the incident. No additional details are known at this time. 

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Cut bag filled with berries

Officers have recovered hundreds of pounds of berries in total. (Indian River County Sheriff’s Office)

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