Category Archives: Law Enforcement

CDFW Arrests Four Suspects for Commercial Sale of Sport Harvest Abalone

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A CDFW Wildlife Officer places an abalone poaching suspect under arrest.
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Wildlife officers observed the suspects using dive gear to harvest abalone for suspected sale on the black market.
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Dive gear seized as evidence on Sept. 20, 2017.

 

Wildlife officers have arrested four suspects on charges of harvesting abalone with a recreational fishing license then selling it on the black market for profit, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced. The arrests were preceded by a five-month investigation of the suspects, some of whom have been previously convicted of similar violations.

Arrested were Oakley resident Thepbangon Nonnarath, 48, El Sobrante resident Dennis Nonnarath, 45, and San Jose residents Thu Thi Tran, 45, and Cuong Huu Tran, 42.

The group came to the attention of CDFW wildlife officers in November 2016, when Thepbangon and Dennis Nonnarath and two associates were cited for multiple abalone violations at Moat Creek, a popular recreational abalone fishery in Mendocino County. Thepbangon Nonnarath had previous abalone poaching convictions and the wildlife officers suspected the group may be engaged in the commercial sale of recreationally harvested abalone, which is unlawful.

Beginning in May 2017, wildlife officers observed suspicious activity by the same group of suspects in several popular recreational abalone diving locations in both Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Further investigation revealed an extended group of people who were harvesting abalone and allegedly selling it on the black market. The five-month investigation uncovered evidence of various poaching crimes among the group, including unlawful sale of sport caught abalone, take of abalone for personal profit, commercial possession of sport caught abalone, exceeding the seasonal limit of abalone, falsification of abalone tags and conspiracy to commit a crime, among others.

“The collective efforts of these suspected poachers show a blatant disregard for the regulations designed to protect California’s abalone resources,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “Whether it be California abalone or African ivory, wildlife officers will not tolerate trafficking of our wildlife resources.”

The alleged abalone poaching crimes occurred at a time when abalone are facing significant threats to their populations due to unprecedented environmental and biological stressors. As a result, the California Fish and Game Commission has re-adopted an emergency abalone regulation to continue the restriction of the annual abalone limit to 12 abalone per person and continue the reduced open season which is limited to May, June, August, September and October.

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Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982

 

CDFW Law Enforcement Academy Graduates 30 Cadets, Adding 18 New Wildlife Officers to the Ranks

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Academy Class 60 today added 18 new wildlife officers to the ranks of those who have dedicated their lives to the protection of California’s incredible natural resources.

The graduation ceremony took place Friday, Aug. 11 at the Paradise Performing Arts Center in Paradise. The 18 new wildlife officers will be going directly into CDFW’s Field Training Officer (FTO) program to put their training into practice under the close supervision of experienced FTOs. An additional 12 cadets paid their way through the Academy as “self-sponsors” in the interest of either applying for a law enforcement position with a different law enforcement agency or with CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division.

CDFW is also pleased to announce the recent hiring of four new wildlife officers who left previous full-time peace officer positions to work as wildlife officers. They will receive additional wildlife law enforcement specific training at the Academy prior to beginning their FTO Programs.

“Our cadets and Academy staff have worked tirelessly every day during the duration of the Academy to help develop necessary skills they will need to protect California’s natural resources and the California’s communities for generations to come,” said David Bess, CDFW Chief of Law Enforcement.

CDFW’s Wildlife Officer Academy is certified through the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and offers training consistent with every law enforcement agency in California. Field training with experienced FTOs is also mandated by POST to be sure new wildlife officers can apply the skills they learned during the academy to real life circumstances. FTO is the final stage of formal training. Upon successful completion, these officers will begin patrolling California to protect the natural resources of this great state.

Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations. These officers primarily work alone, in remote areas, contacting subjects who almost always have some form of weapon, and they do so knowing that backup could be hours away. Wildlife officers have large patrol districts and great responsibilities, and frequently a sole officer will cover an entire county. The average California wildlife officer’s patrol district exceeds 500 square miles.

In 2008, CDFW teamed with Butte College to provide peace officer academy training for prospective wildlife officers. That partnership provided CDFW a state of the art POST-certified academy facility with 42 years of police training history.

The Law Enforcement Division will be accepting applications through Sept. 30, 2017, for the Academy beginning in January 2019. For more information about becoming a wildlife officer and the application timeline, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.

Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr. Wanted for Attempting to Shoot a CDFW Wildlife Officer

A reward of up to $20,000 remains available for information leading to the arrest of Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr., suspected of attempting to shoot a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officer in August 2016. Anyone with information in this case (#201604226), particularly the whereabouts of Hof, is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539, or the CDFW CalTIP line at (888) 334-2258.

The California Wildlife Officers Foundation, California Waterfowl Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Nature Conservancy, Sportfishing Alliance and private donors collaborated on the reward.

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Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr.

On Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, at approximately 12:40 a.m., a CDFW wildlife officer was patrolling in Carlotta, Humboldt County.  The officer saw a pickup truck with several occupants using spotlights on Redwood House Road near Highway 36.  The officer attempted an enforcement stop of the truck when the driver sped away. A pursuit ensued and a person in the rear of the truck, believed to be Hof, began shooting at the wildlife officer during the attempt to get away. The suspects crashed their vehicle into a tree before fleeing on foot into the woods, where they escaped.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt District Attorney’s Office took lead in the initial investigation into the shooting incident. Through their investigation, they identified Hof as the suspect.   The Sheriff’s Office obtained a $500,000 Ramey Warrant for Hof’s arrest.

Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr. is 25 years old. He is 5’9”, 150 lbs., with brown hair and brown eyes.

Humboldt County Sheriff Office Tip Line 707-268-2539

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Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Central Valley Fish Trafficking Ring Sentenced Following CDFW Bust

Three Fresno men face jail time and fines after being caught poaching and unlawfully trafficking sport-caught fish, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.

Kue Her, 36, Leepo Her, 33, and Michael Vang, 31, all of Fresno, all pled guilty to charges of illegal poaching of wildlife for profit. Kue Her was sentenced to 52 days in county jail and four years probation, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation. Leepo Her was sentenced to serve nine days in county jail, four years probation and a $1,050 fine, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation.

Vang was sentenced to one day in county jail, six hours community service, four years probation and a $1,050 fine, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation.  

Over the course of a year, CDFW wildlife officers made contact with the three men on multiple occasions as they were fishing throughout California’s Central Valley. The men were frequently found in violation of various laws, including possession of gross overlimits and retention of undersized striped bass. The egregious nature of their poaching activities led wildlife officers to suspect they might be selling fish on the black market.

Wildlife officers analyzed the suspects’ citation history and began a focused investigation into their activities. The investigation uncovered an abundance of evidence that the men had made thousands of dollars through the illegal sale of wild-caught striped bass and other local fish species. The investigation culminated in multiple search warrants served in December 2016, where wildlife officers located live crappie and bluegill in an aquarium, frozen striped bass, marijuana and evidence of a marijuana cultivation and sales, and methamphetamine and evidence of methamphetamine sales.

“The cases are a result of wildlife officers’ recognition of each independent poaching offense for the egregious offenses they were as a whole,” said Assistant Chief John Baker, Central Enforcement District, Fresno. “From there it was good old-fashioned investigative work.”

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and Deputy District Attorneys Sabrina Ashjian and Adam Kook prosecuted the case. Ashjian displayed particular vigilance, perseverance and tenacity in her handling of this case. These efforts, along with multitudes of other environmental and poaching prosecutions, contributed to her selection as the 2016 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year by the California Fish and Game Commission.

Anyone with information about unlawful fishing, hunting or pollution is encouraged to contact CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, is printed on the back of every hunting and fishing license. Tips can also be relayed by text to 847411 (tip411). Text messages allow for a two-way conversation with wildlife officers, while preserving the anonymity of the tipster. Texts should begin with the word “CALTIP,” followed by a space and the message. There is also an app for smartphones that works similarly. For more information on the program and the CalTIP app, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Doug Barnhart, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (559) 685-5456

Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982

CDFW Law Enforcement Now Hiring Wildlife Officers

Do you have what it takes to be a California wildlife officer? The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division (LED) is currently accepting applications for wildlife officers and cadets. CDFW is particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a love of the outdoors and a passion for fish and wildlife conservation.

Applicants who are current peace officers must fill out a warden application by July 31, 2017.

Applicants who are not current peace officers must fill out a warden cadet application by Sept. 30, 2017.

All prospective candidates are encouraged to extensively review informational materials on the Law Enforcement Division’s website before contacting CDFW with questions.

CDFW wildlife officers are fully sworn California peace officers with a fundamental duty to serve and protect the public. They have the authority to enforce all California laws, including the Vehicle Code, Penal Code, Health and Safety drug laws and more. The primary mission of a wildlife officer is to enforce wildlife resource laws; to protect California waterways and habitat from destruction, pollution and litter; provide the public with hunting and fishing information; and to promote and coordinate hunter education, and safe weapons handling.

Wildlife officers patrol the mountains, valleys, deserts, creeks, streams, rivers and ocean. They frequently work alone and cover both rural and urban areas. California’s diverse ecosystem spans 159,000 square miles divided into 58 counties, with a human population in excess of 39 million. The state has 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs and 80 major rivers. Wildlife officers patrol utilizing trucks, ATVs, personal watercraft, boats, snowmobiles and airplanes, making contact with Californians in the great outdoors. Wildlife officers work undercover, conduct surveillances and complete in-depth investigations, including writing and serving search warrants. CDFW LED has numerous specialized teams and assignments including K-9, wildlife trafficking, marijuana eradication, marine patrol, and oil spill prevention and response.

Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations for violations of the law.

Successful applicants for warden cadet will attend a Peace Officer Standards of Training (POST) certified law enforcement training academy, conducted by CDFW at Butte College, near Chico in northern California. Following the academy, probationary wildlife officers will work with a seasoned field training officer for several weeks, where they will learn to apply their training in practical circumstances.

Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982