Enforcement

Eight Oyster Fishermen Convicted for Oyster Harvest Violations

Release Date: 03/19/2013

March 19, 2013 -- Today, March 19, eight oyster fishermen entered a no contest plea for several health and oyster violations in the 15th Judicial District Court of Louisiana in Vermilion Parish.

The Honorable Judge Durwood Conque accepted the pleas from Antonio G. Ayala, 34, Jose L. Ayala, 41, Jose M. Ayala, 21, all of Dickinson, Texas, Jose F. Rodriguez, 31, Jose G. Arredondo, 45, Octavio R. Vega, 38, all of Houston, Texas, Jose M. Bocanegra, 23, of Bacliff, Texas, and Heliodoro Gonzalez-Bocanegra, 43, of Chalmette.  Judge Conque ordered the men to each pay a fine of $1,922.50.

On July 25, 2012, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents in Vermilion Parish conducted surveillance on a group of oyster fisherman that were harvesting oysters in Southwest Pass.

Agents observed several boats coming into the dock in Intracoastal City with sacks of oysters that were labeled to be shucked and processed.  However, agents later observed these fishermen change the tags on the sacks of oysters to indicate that the oysters could be consumed raw when offloading the sacks from their boats.  These mislabeled sacks of oysters were then loaded onto a truck and were destined for Florida, before LDWF agents intercepted the shipment.
Oysters that are intended for raw consumption have strict harvest and refrigeration requirements that were not met by these fishermen.  Agents seized a total of 495 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water in an area closed to oyster harvesting.

Each man pleaded no contest for violating the sanitation code for logbook and refrigeration requirements, adulterating or misbranding seafood, violating interstate commerce regulations and failing to fill out oyster tags correctly.

Since April of 2012, LDWF agents have seized over 1,000 sacks of oysters in Vermilion Parish alone and returned these oysters to closed areas.  These seizures were mainly pertaining to the enforcement of refrigeration requirements for oysters intended for raw consumption.

Sgt. Justin Sonnier was the lead investigator on this case, which was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Aimee Hebert.

Major Jubal Marceaux, Capt. Robert Buatt, Sgt. Brian Theriot and Senior Agents Jason Stagg, Myron Verret, Derek Logan, Carl Pickett, Donnie Bozeman and Jason Marks also assisted with this case.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Five New Orleans Men Cited for Fishing Violations in Gulf

Release Date: 03/19/2013

March 19, 2013 -- After a joint investigation between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), LDWF Enforcement Division agents cited five New Orleans men for alleged fishing violations today, March 19.

LDWF agents cited Nam Nguyen, 52, Nam Truong, 82, Hung Tran, 55, Son Pham, 41, and Hang Nguyen, 51, for violating highly migratory species regulations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Agents received a complaint from NOAA Fisheries that the USCG discovered the vessel fishing in federal waters with live bait on March 18.  LDWF agents boarded the vessel, The Blue Fin, when it returned to Dulac this morning and found J-hooks, hand lines and three places to hold live bait.

It is illegal to fish for highly migratory species in the Gulf of Mexico with live bait and J-hooks.  Circle hooks and either artificial lures or dead bait can be used with a highly migratory species permit.

Violating highly migratory species regulations brings up to $50,000 in fines, loss of any highly migratory species permits for up to one year and loss of catch.  Agents seized 2,861 pounds of yellowfin tuna and a total of 623 pounds of swordfish, wahoo and escolar, hand lines and two buoys.

LDWF Agents participating in the case are Sgt. Louis Burnett, Senior Agents Dean Aucoin and Norman Deroche and Sgt. Ted Dewitt.  NOAA Fisheries Special Agent Steve Campbell and USCG Ensign Zack Bowman also assisted in the case.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Charter Guide Sentenced for Tuna Violations and Resisting Agents in Plaquemines Parish

Release Date: 03/01/2013

A Denham Springs man, who owns Deep South Charters out of Venice, was sentenced on Feb. 27 in Plaquemines Parish for tuna fishing violations and resisting an officer.

Josh S. Howard, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts of resisting an officer, one count of intentional littering and one count of violating recreational take of tuna regulations.

Judge M. Clement of the 25th Judicial District of Plaquemines Parish accepted Howard’s guilty plea and sentenced him to forfeit his 2013 charter boat guide licenses and forbid him from acting as a charter captain for 2013.  Howard was also sentenced to a total of $850 in fines plus court costs, 32 hours of community service and two years of probation with the addition that no wildlife and fishery offenses can be committed during the time of probation.  If Howard does commit any wildlife and fishery violation during his two years of probation, he may face further revocation of charter boat licenses.

Howard’s guilty plea stems from an investigation conducted by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents.  LDWF agents were tipped off by confidential informants that Howard participated in the catching and retaining of a large Bluefin tuna in April of 2012 after the season had closed.

After a lengthy investigation, agents secured a subpoena for the cell phone owned by Howard where photos of the fish were believed to be stored.  When agents approached Howard with the subpoena and asked for his phone on May 18, 2012, Howard threw the phone overboard into the water thereby destroying any suspected evidence.

Howard was placed under arrest and booked into the Plaquemines Parish Jail.  Agents were able to secure a search warrant for his home in Denham Springs and seize his computer.  Howard then provided agents with photos and videos of the illegally harvested tuna.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Adam Young, Sgt. Roy Pier, Sgt. Louis Burnett, Senior Agents Villere Reggio and Ladd Turner and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Special Agent Charles Tyre.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Marksville Man Arrested for Killing Black Bear in Avoyelles Parish

Release Date: 02/26/2013

A Marksville man was arrested and booked into the Avoyelles Parish Jail on Feb. 25 for his alleged role in the illegal killing of a Louisiana black bear.

Derek P. Sayer, 30, was arrested for shooting and killing a Louisiana black bear on Nov. 27, 2012 in Avoyelles Parish.  A hunter alerted authorities on Nov. 27 about a dead black bear laying on an all-terrain vehicle trail on Avoyelles Parish School Board property located 20 miles northwest of Marksville.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers responded to the scene and immediately started a joint investigation.  After a lengthy investigation, officials concluded that Sayer allegedly killed the bear.

LDWF performed a necropsy of the bear, which revealed the bear was fatally shot with buckshot.  The bear was approximately two years old and weighed about 100 pounds.

Harvesting a Louisiana black bear brings a state fine between $900 and $950 and up to 120 days in jail.  In addition, restitution for the value of the animal up to $10,000 could be imposed.

The Louisiana black bear has been listed on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species List since 1992.

The North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory in Alexandria and the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office provided forensic and technical assistance during the investigation.

For more information, contact Major Sammy Martin at 225-765-2536 or smartin@wlf.la.gov.

Three Men Cited for Hunting Violations in Concordia Parish

Release Date: 02/25/2013

Feb. 25, 2013 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited three Louisiana men for alleged wildlife violations on Feb. 12, 2013 in Concordia Parish.

Kenneth Woods, 38, of Jonesville, Don Paige, 46, of Ferriday, and Kenneth Jenkins, 50, of Jonesville, were cited for hunting wild game quadrupeds during illegal hours and hunting raccoon illegally.

LDWF Sgt. Trey Mason and Concordia Parish Deputy Dusty Lemoine were patrolling the area of Haphazard Road near Dunbarton after legal shooting hours.  They observed a spot light and heard several gunshots coming from a wooded area at the end of Haphazard Road.

While observing the area, the two officers observed two vehicles leaving the wooded area and they initiated traffic stops on both vehicles.  During the traffic stops, Woods, Paige and Jenkins stated they were raccoon hunting, but did not have a dog in their possession.

The subjects were in possession of small caliber rifles.  Subsequently, they were also found in possession of six freshly harvested rabbits.

Hunting wild game quadrupeds during illegal hours and hunting raccoon using illegal methods each carry a fine between $250 and $500 and up to 90 days in jail for each offense.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Body of Missing Baton Rouge Firefighter Recovered from Intracoastal Canal in St. Martin Parish

Release Date: 02/21/2013

Feb. 21, 2013 -- Search and rescue officials recovered the body of a Walker man from the Intracoastal Canal in St. Martin Parish today shortly after 12 p.m., Feb. 21.

Search crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division, Baton Rouge Fire Department, Ascension Parish Fire Department, Gonzales Fire Department, St. Martin Sheriff’s Office, St. Mary Sheriff’s Office, Assumption Sheriff’s Office, Belle River Volunteer Fire Department, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, Baton Rouge Port Security, and volunteers from Texas and Michigan have been searching for Jacob P. Lewis, 28, since Jan. 30.

Authorities were notified that Lewis, a Baton Rouge firefighter, fell into the Intracoastal Canal near Belle River while loading his boat.  According to his wife, Lewis and she were out scouting for possible crawfish trap locations on Jan. 30.

Search crews utilized sonar, dive teams, cadaver dogs, and aerial and surface search techniques during the search and rescue period.

Lewis’ body was turned over to the St. Martin Parish Coroner’s Office to determine a cause of death.  LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Body of Shaw Man Recovered from Cocodrie Bayou

Release Date: 02/08/2013

 
Feb. 8, 2013 -- Search and rescue officials recovered the body of a Shaw man from Cocodrie Bayou in Concordia Parish this morning, Feb. 8.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents and Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies recovered the body of Louis Fisher, 84, around 9:45 a.m.

Officials were notified about a fisherman who apparently had fallen overboard in Cocodrie Bayou at 4 p.m. on Feb. 7.  According to family, Fisher was running trot lines in Cocodrie Bayou.

Fisher’s body was turned over to the Concordia Parish Coroner’s Office to determine a cause of death.  LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Grandfather and Grandson Found Alive After 13 Hour Search

Release Date: 02/07/2013

Search and rescue crews found two overdue boaters alive this morning, Feb. 7, near the Lafitte area.

A Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) seaplane spotted the overdue boaters waving their arms with their boat tied up to a camp around 9 a.m.  The seaplane called in the location for rescue crews on the water in boats to respond.  The rescue crews were then able to escort the missing boaters back to Joe’s landing in Lafitte.  The missing boaters were in good health when found.

Search crews from LDWF, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Lafourche, Jefferson and St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Offices participated in the search for the missing boaters.

The search crews received word at 8 p.m. on Feb. 6 about a grandfather and grandson who did not return home from a boating trip.  According to the family, the 72-year-old grandfather and 15-year-old grandson both from Gretna departed Joe’s landing at 7 a.m.

The rescue crews searched throughout the night for the two missing boaters until they were found about seven miles from Joe’s landing.

According to the grandfather, they were trying to get back to the landing, but became disoriented when it got too dark and they decided to find a place to tie their 19 foot boat up to for the night.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

New Iberia Man Arrested For Multiple Felonies

Release Date: 02/06/2013

Feb. 6, 2013 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents arrested a New Iberia man for alleged drug and wildlife charges in Iberia Parish on Jan. 30.

Agents cited Christopher J. Pellerin, 34, for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute, possession of a controlled dangerous substance while in possession of a firearm, driving with a suspended operator’s license, hunting without a resident basic license or state duck license, wanton waste of migratory game birds and using lead shot in an area designated for steel shot only.

Agents received a call from the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office about a subject poaching and trespassing in crawfish ponds in Iberia Parish on Jan. 27.  The sheriff’s office had already cited Pellerin for trespassing earlier in the day and released him.

Agents made contact with Pellerin later that evening and verified he hunted migratory game birds with a 20 gauge shotgun using lead shot and left dead American coots in the pond to go to waste.

Agents also discovered that Pellerin is a convicted felon with multiple convictions and he cannot possess a firearm.  The agents were issued arrest and search warrants for Pellerin’s residence to seize the firearm he allegedly used.

While serving the warrants on Jan. 30, agents discovered the firearm along with ammunition.  LDWF Agents with the help of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office K-9 division also located a substantial amount of marijuana divided and packaged in amounts to be distributed.  Pellerin was then booked into the Iberia Parish Jail.

Felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon brings 10 to 20 years in jail and a $1,000 to $5,000 fine.  Felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute carries up to five to 50 years in jail and up to a $50,000 fine.  Felony possession of a controlled dangerous substance while in possession of a firearm brings up to a $2,000 fine and one to two years of jail.  Driving with a suspended operator’s license carries a $300 to $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

Hunting without a resident basic license and state duck license each carry a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail for each offense.  Wanton waste of migratory game birds brings up to a $950 fine and up to 120 days of jail.  Using lead shot in an area designated for steel shot only carries up to a $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.

Agents participating in this case are Sgt. Dusty Rhodes and Senior Agent David Boudreaux and the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office K-9 Division.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. Issues $22,100 in 2012

Release Date: 02/05/2013

Feb. 5, 2013--Louisiana Operation Game Thief, Inc. (LOGT), a Louisiana wildlife crime-stoppers program, awarded $9,200 to diligent citizens statewide at their quarterly meeting on Jan. 26 in Baton Rouge.

For the 2012 calendar year, LOGT approved and dispensed $22,100 in cash rewards for concerned citizens who reported wildlife violations that led to 79 subjects being apprehended in wildlife cases.  There were a total of 53 cases presented and 531 offenses associated with those cases in 2012.

For the last quarter of 2012, LOGT issued $9,200 in reward money on 24 cases.

Louisiana Department Wildlife Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement LOGT Coordinator Lt. Will Roberts provided LOGT members with information on each case and a recommendation for reward amounts.

“We depend on Operation Game Thief and these public tips to help break a lot of cases that might have otherwise gone unsolved,” Roberts said.

Anyone wishing to report wildlife or fisheries violations should anonymously call LDWF’s 24-hour toll free Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or utilize LDWF's new tip411 program.  To use the tip411 program, citizens can anonymously text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.

LOGT was instituted in 1984 and provides cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of violators of fish and wildlife regulations.  Funds are raised through private donations, court directed contributions and through contributions from cooperative endeavor agreements with organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation and Quality Deer Management Association.

Since its inception in 1984, LOGT has issued $324,700 in rewards.

To make a donation to the LOGT that can be used for cash rewards, please contact Lt. Will Roberts at wroberts@wlf.la.gov.

LOGT meets quarterly throughout the year to review cases and dispense rewards.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2465.

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