Though motor vehicles are not allowed on the beach, Xplora Mexico is accused of causing irreparable damage to the nests of turtles and birds, as well as to the area’s dunes.
When confronted by locals, the tour conductors said they did not see any signs disallowing the activities.
“Ignorance is no defense. If you are going to run a tour and bring vehicles on the beach, you really ought to know the rules,” said Río Lagartos resident Josefa Esquivel.
The tour company based in Veracruz fled the scene before police could arrive but environmental authorities say that charges are being drawn up against the tour operator.
It is not clear exactly what list of charges is to be brought up against the Xplora, but legal precedent suggests that those responsible could be looking at hefty fines as well as prison time.
Locals say that they tried to get the tour operators to stay to face the consequences of their actions, but that they did not use force to do so as they feared later being accused of kidnapping.
This is because in Mexico, there is no such thing as a citizen’s arrest — even when the offense is flagrant.
For its part, Xplora Mexico has remained silent on its Facebook page and website and has not responded to any media inquiries asking for their side of the story — Yucatán Magazine included.
There are three species of sea turtles native to the Peninsula: the caguama, carey, and verde — all of which are endangered.
The carey was once the most endangered, but harsh punishments against the trafficking of its meat, shells and eggs seem to have helped the species bounce back from the brink of extinction.