General

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Four Men Cited for Oyster Violations

Release Date: 06/24/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited four men for alleged oyster violations on June 22 in Lafourche Parish.

Agents cited Ernesto Frederick-Valentin, 45, Carlos Treminio, 31, Marshal Palacios, 35, all of New Orleans, and Casey Billiot, 24, of Houma, for unlawfully taking oysters off a private lease and from an unapproved area.  Agents also cited the Frederick-Valentin for not possessing a commercial gear license for the dredge at the time of the stop.
Agents received an anonymous tip about four people taking oysters off of a private lease without permission in Bay Marlene.  Upon arriving on the scene agents discovered the area was also located inside a polluted area for taking oysters.  Agents then made contact with the four subjects and found them actively dredging for oysters in the area.

Agents seized nine sacks of oysters and returned them to the water.  They also seized the vessel and dredge on a department seizure order.

Taking oysters off a private lease and taking oysters from an unapproved area each carries a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  Taking commercial fish without a commercial gear license carries a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

The men could also have their oyster harvester licenses revoked by the department for up to one year.  The violators could also be sentenced to perform 40 hours of community service and only be allowed to harvest oysters from a vessel with a vessel monitoring device for up to one year.

Agents involved in the case are Senior Agent Dean Aucoin and Senior Agent Michael Williams.

LDWF Agents Participating in Operation Dry Water This Weekend

Release Date: 06/23/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) agents will take part in Operation Dry Water from June 24-26 with increased patrols for boaters operating or driving a boat while intoxicated (DWI) enforcement and boating safety.

During the Operation Dry Water weekend, LDWF agents will be out in force patrolling state waterways for impaired boat operators.

Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.  Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.

“Alcohol use and operating a vessel don’t mix.  We want people to treat a boat the same way they would a vehicle when it comes to having a sober operator.” said LDWF Lt. Col. Sammy Martin, the state’s boating law administrator.  “We want people to have fun on the water, but we also want them to come home safely.”

Louisiana had 22 boating fatalities in 2014 with alcohol playing a role in four fatalities or 17 percent.  Nationwide, statistics from 2015 reveal that 17 percent of all boat incident fatalities listed alcohol as a contributing factor.

LDWF agents issued three DWI citations to boat operators during the 2015 Operation Dry Water weekend and five DWI citations during the same weekend in 2014.

Impaired boaters caught this weekend can expect penalties to be severe.  In Louisiana, a DWI on the water carries the same penalties and fines as on the road and includes jail time, fines and loss of driving and boating operator privileges.

Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.  Also, each offense of operating a vehicle or vessel while intoxicated counts toward the total number of DWI crimes whether they happened on the water or road.

In Louisiana a DWI can be issued to anyone operating a moving vessel or vehicle while impaired.  First offense DWI carries a $300 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Operation Dry Water was started in 2009 and is a joint program involving the LDWF/LED, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.  More information is available at www.operationdrywater.org.

Second Man Sentenced for Downed Trees on Spring Bayou WMA

Release Date: 06/20/2016

Another man was sentenced on June 16 in 12th Judicial District Court in Avoyelles Parish for his part in the cutting down of trees on the Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

Judge William Bennett sentenced Allen Gaspard, 62, of Marksville, to serve two years in jail suspended, to pay $20,000 in civil restitution to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), $400 in court costs and $250 for criminal court fund.  Gaspard was also given five years of probation during which time he will not be allowed on any WMA and not allowed to possess recreational hunting or fishing licenses.

Gaspard is the second man convicted for the cutting down of trees in an effort to block navigation to hunting areas on the Spring Bayou WMA.  Keith Savoy, 49, of Hessmer, was found guilty on March 2 and sentenced on April 11 in 2016.

Judge William Bennett sentenced Savoy to serve two years in jail suspended, to pay $15,000 in civil restitution to LDWF, $2,500 fine, $750 for the cost of prosecution and $400 in court costs.  Savoy was also given five years of probation during which time he will not be allowed on any WMA and not allowed to possess recreational hunting or fishing licenses.

Savoy and Gaspard cut over 100 trees in December of 2014 in the northeast corner of Spring Bayou WMA to block navigable access to an area known as the “fields” where they regularly hunted.  The trees Savoy and Gaspard cut down ranged from 10 inches to 30 inches in diameter and up to 50 foot tall including cypress, oak and willow trees.

LDWF agents arrested Savoy in March of 2015 and Gaspard in October of 2015 for criminal damage to state property.

Avoyelles District Attorney Charles Riddle and Assistant District Attorney Tony Salario prosecuted the cases.

Agents involved in the case are Lt. John Volentine, Sgts. Gabe Guidry, Chad Watts and Bear Fletcher, and Senior Agents Doug Anderson Jr., Jay Callegari, Heath Wood, Kurt Hatten, Dale Wheat, Kenny Robertson and John Hattaway.  Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matthew Smith and Detective Jeremiah Honea also assisted in the case.

Single Boat Incident Leads to Fatality in St. Landry Parish

Release Date: 06/17/2016

Search and rescue crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office recovered the deceased body of an Arnaudville man from a St. Landry Parish waterway on June 16.

Search and rescue crews recovered the body of Arron M. Baber, 22, around 10:15 p.m. on June 16.  Authorities received word around 8:30 p.m. of a single boat incident on Bayou D’Arbonne.

According to the operator of the 14 foot aluminum vessel he and Baber were traversing Bayou D’Arbonne when they got distracted and the vessel struck a railroad bridge piling in the water ejecting Baber into the piling and water.

The operator was able to swim back to the bank to a witness of the incident and call authorities.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.  Agents sent in a toxicology test on both the operator and Baber.  Neither man was wearing a personal flotation device.  Baber’s body was turned over to the St. Landry Parish Coroner’s Office to determine a cause of death.

Authorities Find Body of Missing Boater in Vermilion Parish

Release Date: 06/16/2016

Search and rescue crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Coast Guard found the deceased body of a missing boater in Vermilion Parish today, June 16.

Search and rescue crews retrieved the body of Ernest Hebert, 79, of New Iberia around 5 p.m. about a half mile from the Oaks Canal in Vermilion Bay.

Search and rescue crews received a call around noon about the missing boater.  The crews learned that a boat had sunk in Vermilion Bay outside of Oaks Canal along the Northshore of Vermilion Parish earlier in the morning with two people on board.

One of the boaters was rescued by a Good Samaritan shortly before noon.  Once on board the Good Samaritan’s vessel, the rescued boater was able to relay information to authorities that Hebert was missing.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.  Hebert was found without a personal flotation device.  LDWF will continue to search for the sunken vessel, which is believed to be an aluminum flat bottom vessel.

Hebert’s body was turned over to the Vermilion Parish Coroner’s Office.

Authorities Find Body of Missing Boater in Vermilion Parish

Release Date: 06/16/2016

Search and rescue crews from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Coast Guard found the deceased body of a missing boater in Vermilion Parish today, June 16.

Search and rescue crews retrieved the body of Ernest Hebert, 79, of New Iberia around 5 p.m. about a half mile from the Oaks Canal in Vermilion Bay.

Search and rescue crews received a call around noon about the missing boater.  The crews learned that a boat had sunk in Vermilion Bay outside of Oaks Canal along the Northshore of Vermilion Parish earlier in the morning with two people on board.

One of the boaters was rescued by a Good Samaritan shortly before noon.  Once on board the Good Samaritan’s vessel, the rescued boater was able to relay information to authorities that Hebert was missing.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.  Hebert was found without a personal flotation device.  LDWF will continue to search for the sunken vessel, which is believed to be an aluminum flat bottom vessel.

Hebert’s body was turned over to the Vermilion Parish Coroner’s Office.

One Arrested for Drug Possession and Another Cited for Illegal Frogging Violations

Release Date: 06/16/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents cited one subject for alleged amphibian violations and arrested another for alleged drug violations in Evangeline Parish on June 7.

Agents cited Kirk Reed, 41, and arrested Crystal Jones, 40, both from Baslie.  Reed was cited for collecting frogs without a basic fishing license and selling frogs without a reptile and amphibian collector’s license.  Jones was arrested for possession of marijuana, illegal possession of prescription pills, illegal possession of tramadol pills, and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Agents received a tip that Reed was selling frogs on a social media site and set up a meeting through a confidential informant.  Reed was attempting to sell the informant 20 cleaned frogs but had none of the required licenses.

Agents were in the process of seizing 40 frog legs from Reed’s truck when they smelled a strong odor of marijuana emitting from a purse that belonged to Jones sitting next to the container of frog legs.  After receiving permission to look in the purse, agents discovered Jones in possession of marijuana, methamphetamine, a number of pills without a prescription including tramadol and drug paraphernalia.

Selling frogs without a reptile and amphibian collector’s license brings a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.  Collecting frogs without a basic fishing license carries up to a $50 fine and 15 days in jail. Possession of methamphetamine carries up to a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.  Possession of marijuana brings up to a $500 fine and six months in jail. Illegal possession of the prescription pills each brings up to a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.  Illegal possession of tramadol pills carries up to a $25,000 fine and five years in jail.

Agents involved in the case are Sgt. Scot Fontenot, Senior Agent Steve Vidrine and Senior Agent Jake Hoover.

Man Cited for Illegally Taken Alligator

Release Date: 06/13/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement division agents cited a Sunset man for allegedly killing an alligator during a closed season on June 10.

Agents cited Kenneth Arceneaux, 49, for taking or possessing an alligator during a closed season and intentional concealment of illegally taken wildlife.

Agents responded to an anonymous complaint against Arceneaux.  Agents showed up at Arceneaux’s residence on June 10 and learned that Arceneaux had harvested a six foot alligator in Cameron Parish earlier that morning.  Agents seized the meat.

Possessing an alligator during a closed season and intentional concealment of illegally taken wildlife each brings up to a $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each offense.  Arceneaux may also face a total of $375 in civil restitution for the illegally taken alligator.

The alligator season for Cameron Parish doesn’t open until the first Wednesday in September.

Agents participating in the case are Senior Agent Channing Duval and Sgt. Ryan Faul.

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