Pacheco first crewed with Captain Paul Watson in 1979 on the ship Sea Shepherd across the Atlantic Ocean, during a campaign of opposition to the Sierra, a Portuguese pirate whale-killing ship. Both The Sea Shepherd and the Sierra were sunk after being seized by the Portuguese authorities.
Pacheco came to wider public attention in 1981 for his role, along with Ingrid Newkirk, in what became known as the Silver Spring monkeys case, a campaign to release 17 crab-eating macaques who were undergoing experiments in the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. Oliver Stone wrote that the political campaign to save the monkeys gave birth to the animal rights movement in the United States.
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