JOINT ENFORCEMENT EFFORT PROVES SUCCESSFUL IN LAKE BORGNE

Release Date: 01/28/2008

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division Agents and St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office (SBPSO) deputies assigned to the Special Investigations Division collaborated on a joint enforcement effort in the waters of St. Bernard Parish On Jan. 23, 


The patrol area was focused in the southern portion of Lake Borgne, where a large amount of commercial oyster fishing vessels had been taking oysters from the Louisiana State Public Seed Grounds.


The LDWF Region 8 office received numerous complaints regarding oyster violations, the use of illegal narcotics and undocumented workers in the area.  When LDWF and SBPSO patrol vessels responded, the agents and deputies observed approximately 50 oyster fishing vessels in the area of Lake Borgne near Petit Pass and Half Moon Island.  During the patrol, numerous citations were issued for alleged oyster violations and arrests were made on alleged drug charges and court ordered warrants.


Louisiana law mandates that the minimum size limit on oysters taken from the public seed grounds be 3 inches in length.  Commercial oyster fishermen are allowed a 15 percent tolerance of undersized oysters and are also required to complete a logbook stating the area the oysters were taken from and the date taken. 


Lawrence Nicosia, 44, of Violet, David Frazier, 44, of St. Bernard, and Manuel Garcia, 68, of New Orleans were all arrested and incarcerated for taking undersized oysters from a natural reef, illegal possession of hydrocodone and marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Nicosia was also arrested on court ordered warrants for previous oyster violations, and Frazier for previous simple battery charges.


Mark Phillips Jr., 24, of Belle Chasse, Chad Phillips, 25, of Marrero, Todd Sylve, 25, of Harvey, Jose Perez, 47, and Gustavo Duran, 30, of Bacliff, Texas, and J. Luis Rivas, 39, and Jose Cervantes, 26, of Houston, Texas were all cited for taking undersized oysters from a natural reef.  Because of their undeclared status, Cosme Gonzales, 46, and Ruben Martinez, 20, of Mexico were arrested for the offense and incarcerated.  Mark Phillips Jr. was also found to have active court ordered warrants from St. Bernard Parish and was arrested and incarcerated.


Emile Evans, 63, of St. Bernard, Jonathan Phillips, 31, of Marrero, and Emile Serigne, 43, of St. Bernard were all cited for violating sanitation codes regarding logbooks.  Phillips was also cited for taking undersized oysters and Serigne for commercial license violations.


Rodney Bass, 39, of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and Glenn Mankin, 31, of Braithwaite were arrested and incarcerated for illegal possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  Bass was also a fugitive from Plaquemines Parish for failure to appear in court.


A total of 18 criminal citations were issued and two arrests made on oyster violations, five arrests were made on illegal drug charges, and four arrests were made on court ordered warrants.  In addition, 437 sacks of oysters were seized and returned to the Public Seed Grounds. 


The oyster violations carry penalties ranging from $100 to $950 or jail for not more than 60 to 120 days or both, plus court costs.  The logbook violations carry a penalty of $25 or not more than 10 days in jail, or both.  The illegal drug violations range from fines to imprisonment of not less than five years.


Involved in the cases were LDWF agents from Region 8 Oyster Strike Force Statewide Strike Force and deputies from the St Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division.


For further information, contact Lt. Col. Keith LaCaze at 225-765-2988 or klacaze@wlf.louisiana.gov.


2008-029