3 men face federal charges for poaching in 3 counties
RENO — Three Las Vegas men face federal charges after state game wardens broke up a wildlife poaching ring accused of illegally killing dozens of animals, including ducks protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Nevada Department of Wildlife officials said Monday.
Adrian Acevedo-Hernandez, 36, Jose Luis Montufar-Canales, 31, and J. Nemias Reyes Marin, 31, are scheduled to go to trial Nov. 17 in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
All three are charged with being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. Acevedo-Hernandez also is charged with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in connection with the investigation that began nearly two years ago and was aided by tips and photographs obtained through Facebook and other social media, state officials said.
A federal grand jury in Las Vegas indicted the men in July. The indictment remains under seal pending trial.
“We followed one lead into another in what seemed to be a bottomless supply of wildlife crime,” said Tyler Turnipseed, Nevada’s chief game warden.
Game warden Cameron Waithman said the investigation determined Acevedo-Hernandez, Montufar-Canales and Marin all had used false information to unlawfully apply for resident hunting licenses and tags. He said the state turned the case over to federal agents after the three were convicted earlier this year on state misdemeanor charges in Churchill, Lincoln and Elko counties.
Investigators with search warrants recovered more than a half-dozen firearms and ammunition, butchering tools, deer meat and “deer parts,” Waithman said.
“Some of it I’m sure they ate and some of it was just the thrill of killing — what we call ‘thrill kills,” he said Monday.
Waithman said he couldn’t’ comment about how many animals may were killed illegally “because we don’t want to jeopardize the federal end of it before it is done, but it’s a lot.”
A morning dove, an American widgeon duck and three green-winged teal ducks were among the waterfowl recovered that are protected under the federal act, court records show.
Las Vegas defense attorneys Bennair Bateman and David Fischer — who are listed in court documents as representing the suspects — did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.
NDOW spokesman Edwin Lygar said the probe began last year when they arrested a 30-year-old Lincoln County man, Jose Manuel Ortega-Torres, on a charge of unlawful possession of two mule deer killed May 2013 on a farm near Hiko about 100 miles north of Las Vegas.
“We never considered him (Ortega-Torres) part of the ring,” Lygar said Monday. “The other three guys we felt were systematically violating wildlife laws.”