Weekly Highlights - June 7, 2019
Read about this week's enforcement actions from across the country.
A Special Agent (SA) received a complaint referral from the OLE hotline of dolphin harassment in the upper Chesapeake Bay. The SA contacted the complainant, reviewed evidence footage and developed a target from a partial hull number provided. The SA contacted the subject who admitted to following pods of dolphin in his vessel, but stated that he was unaware of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The SA provided compliance assistance related to MMPA regulations, which the subject said that he would share with other boaters in his community.
Two SAs interviewed a captain suspected of providing false documentation and information to the USCG, an at-sea-monitor, and on fishing vessel trip reports (FVTRs). The FV was boarded by the USCG and found to be in possession of twice as much of a quota monitored species as the captain showed on his logbook that was provided to the USCG. A video obtained during the haul back on the vessel corroborated that the captain provided false information to the at-sea-monitor for that haul and the FVTRs completed at the end of the trip.
A Galveston Enforcement Officer issued an importer a summary settlement offer in the amount of $2,500 for importing a species (shrimp) covered under the Seafood Import Monitoring Program without a valid international fisheries trade permit ($1,500.00) and importing any species covered under the Seafood Import Monitoring Program without submitting complete and accurate information, as required. ($1,000.00)
- A former Border Patrol agent was sentenced in San Diego federal court for conspiring with others to smuggle dried sea cucumber into the United States from Mexico. The defendant organized couriers to conceal and transport bags of dried fuscus sea cucumber (a CITES Appendix III species) into the U.S. from Mexico on approximately 80 occasions. One of the couriers from another case said that he would transport 10-15 bags of dried sea cucumber approximately 40 times per year for two years between 1:00am and 3:00am, then call the defendant and meet him in a parking lot to transfer the product. It is estimated the courier transported approximately 1600 kg of dried sea cucumber worth over $250,000. The former agent was also caught twice in 2014 attempting to smuggle sea cucumber and seahorses into the U.S. He was sentenced to 24 months jail time, and ordered to pay $5,400 restitution to PROFEPA, the agency in Mexico which regulates fuscus sea cucumber. This was a joint investigation with FWS. After this sentence, he was also sentenced to 30 months (concurrently) for attempting to export fentanyl precursors to Mexico.
A Special Agent received notification that a $2,400 summary settlement was paid for the possession of approximately 333 pounds of mutilated sport-caught halibut. The halibut was seized and voluntarily abandoned by the captain of the vessel. Compliance assistance provided for the use of sport- caught halibut for commercial purposes. This case was accomplished with assistance from an Anchorage based U.S. Forest Service Special Agent.