LA: Two Alligator Guides Charged in Louisiana for Illegally Hunting Alligators
March 18, 2010
WASHINGTON-Two individuals were charged today in a nine count indictment
returned by a federal grand jury in Baton Rouge, La., for illegally hunting
threatened species of alligators, the Justice Department announced.
The indictment charges Clint P. Martinez, 43, and Michael A. Martinez,
47, both of Plaquemine, La., with nine violations of the Lacey Act, the
federal wildlife statute that makes it illegal to transport, sell, receive,
acquire or purchase illegally taken wildlife.
According to the indictment, Clint Martinez, a licensed alligator hunter,
and Michael Martinez, a licensed alligator helper, were paid guides who took
clients of an outfitter on sport alligator hunts. The indictment alleges
nine instances in 2005, 2006 and 2009, that both Clint and Michael Martinez,
while engaged in conduct involving the sale and purchase of wildlife,
transported, sold, received and acquired American alligators, knowing that
the wildlife was taken, possessed, transported and sold in violation of the
laws and regulations of the United States. The indictment alleges
transactions that were worth nearly $44,000.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the individuals charged are
presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
In addition to being listed as a threatened species on the United States'
list of Threatened and Endangered Species, the American alligator also is
listed as a crocodilian species on Appendix II of the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). To better regulate trade
in crocodilian species, the parties to CITES agreed to a program of
requiring a uniquely numbered tag to be inserted into the skin of each
animal immediately after it is killed. The tag is to remain with the skin as
it travels in interstate or international commerce until it is manufactured
into a final consumer product. The Secretary of the Interior issued special
rules for American alligators that implement the CITES tagging program and
regulate the harvest of alligators within the United States.
The maximum penalty for each count of the indictment is five years in
prison and a $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is being prosecuted by
the Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section with assistance from
the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Louisiana.
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