Four anglers accused of selling abalone on black market

Four anglers accused of selling abalone on black market

SACRAMENTO — Four suspects were arrested and charged on allegations of harvesting abalone with a recreational fishing license and selling it for profit on the black market.

Wildlife officers with California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife reportedly made the arrests Sept. 20, following a five-month investigation.

At least one of the suspects was convicted of similar violations in the past, according to a statement issued by DFW officials.

The arrested individuals were Thepbangon Nonnarath, 48, Dennis Nonnarath, 45, Thu Thi Tran, 45 and Cuong Huu Tran, 42; all four suspects reside in or around the San Francisco Bay Area.

The suspects first drew the attention of DFW officers in November 2016, when at least two of them were cited for abalone violations while fishing at Mendocino County’s Moat Creek.

Officers believed the quartet of suspects was engaged in the commercial sale of recreationally harvested abalone, according to a DFW statement.

Selling recreationally harvested abalone for commercial purposes is illegal in California.

DFW’s five-month investigation, which launched in May, reportedly followed the quartet of suspects to popular recreational abalone destinations in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Officers allege the suspects engaged in poaching crimes and unlawful sales of recreationally harvest abalone, among other possible violations.

“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,” DFW staff said in a released statement. “As a result, the California Fish and Game Commission … 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.”

Department of Fishing and Wildlife photo

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