MOSCOW, June 14 (RAPSI, Diana Gutsul) – A court in the Kamchatka Region of Russia has sentenced eleven people to punishments varying from suspended terms to 2.5 years in penal colony for unlawful poaching of seventeen gyrfalcons, RAPSI learned from the Investigative Committee on Wednesday.

The defendants were found guilty of illegal capture, keeping, procurement, transportation and trading of especially valuable wild animals and aquatic biological resources which are listed in the Red Book of endangered species.

The court found that from June till November 2016, an organized criminal group caught 17 wild gyrfalcons in the Olyutor District of Kamchatka. Birds, listed in the Red Book of endangered species, were then kept in captivity and later released into their natural habitat when the group members were busted.

Alleged mastermind of the crime, currently put on the wanted list, provided the gang with poaching equipment and managed two groups through satellite uplink while remaining outside the Kamchatka Region. Actions of the group, consisting of twelve people, caused 20 million rubles ($307,000) damage to the Russian Federation.