U. S. Attorney Jose' de Jesus Rivera and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last November the indictment of seven individuals for violations of federal wildlife laws. A Federal Grand Jury in Phoenix has indicted several individuals for 29 violations of the Airborne Hunting Act, Lacey Act, and conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act.
The investigation, which began in 1998, focused on several big game guides, based in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, who were suspected of unlawfully using aircraft prior to and during hunting season to locate deer and elk for hunting clients. The investigation also focused on illegal guiding and hunting on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
Indicted was a big game writer/videographer from Kanab, Utah. The man was charged with 28 violations, including 21 violations of the Airborne Hunting Act relating to the use of aircraft to harass wildlife, specifically mule deer, bobcat, and coyotes. In addition, the man was charged with one felony violation of the Lacey Act, two felony violations of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, and four misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act. Violations of the Lacey Act were related to unlawful hunting and guiding on the Navajo Indian Reservation, unlawful use of aircraft prior to hunting, and possession of antlers illegally collected within the confines of the Grand Canyon National Park.
Others indicted by the Federal Grand Jury include:
The Lacey Act is a federal wildlife law that makes it unlawful to transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase wildlife which was taken, transported, possessed, or sold in violation of state, federal, or Indian tribal laws or regulations.
The Airborne Hunting Act is a federal wildlife law that makes it unlawful to shoot animals from an aircraft or to harass animals with an aircraft. The Airborne Hunting Act regulations prohibit a person, while on the ground, from taking or attempting to take wildlife by means, aid, or use of an aircraft.
If convicted of the offense charged in the federal indictment for violations of the Lacey Act, the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of the offense charged in the federal indictment for violations of the Airborne Hunting Act, the maximum penalty is one-year imprisonment and a $100,000 fine. Any aircraft used in violation of the Airborne Hunting Act are subject to seizure and forfeiture. An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and an individual's guilt is established only upon conviction.
The investigation that led to the indictment was conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the Navajo Department of Fish and Wildlife. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
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