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8 arrested in white sturgeon poaching operation from Sacramento Valley waterways

BOTTLE AT HIM. THE FLIGHT WAS GETTING READY TO TAKE OFF FOR FLORIDA. SAN FRANCISCO POLICE SAY THEY’VE SHARED THE VIDEO WITH THE NSA MATEO COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, WHICH HAS JURISDICTION OVER THE AIRPORT. NOBODY IS UNDER ARREST. GULSTAN: NOW TO A MAJOR POACHING OPERATION BUST. EIGHT MEN ARE FACING SEVERAL CHARGES, ACCUSED OF POACHING WHITE STURGEON FROM SACRAMENTO VALLEY WATERWAYS. LISA GONZALES HAS DETAILS. >> THE STURGEON POACHERS INTENTIONALLY TARGET THESE REALLY LARGE EGG-LAYING FEMALES WHICH ARE THE FUTURE OF THE POPULATION AND THEY TAKE THOSE FISH, PROCESS THOSE EGGS INTO CA VIAR TO SELL FOR PERSONAL PROFIT. >> SEVERAL PEOPLE ARRESTED IN AN INVESTIGATION THAT LASTED ALMOST A YEAR. >> SOME SUBJECTS HAD BEEN UNDER INVESTIGATION AND HAVE ENEV BUSTED BEFORE FOR STURGEON POACHING AND CATCHING STURGEON . >> LAST MAY, WILDLIFE OFFICIALS PEOPLE, ACCUSED OF CATCHING — LAST MAY, WILDLIFE OFFICIALS ARRESTED TWO PEOPLE ACCUSED OF CATCHING STURGEON REMOVING THE EGGS, AND SELLING TH.EM AGAIN AND INDEPENDENTLY THERE IS ANOTHER CASE GOING ON SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE ENGAGED IN THE SAME TYPE OF SUSPEEDCT STURGEON POACHING ACTIVITY. ULTIMATELY, WE FOUND THAT THEY WERE TALKING TO EACH OTHER AND IT WAS ONE BIG GROUPF O STURGEON, SUSPECTED STURGEON POACHE.RS >> AS THE INVESTIGATION WENT ON, WILDLIFE OFFICIALS ALSO FOUND DRUGS, CASH AND ILLEGAL WEAPONS. >>UGS, CASH AND ILLEGAL WEAPONS. WE DID IN THE COURSE OF THIS INVESTIGATION FOUND STURGEON MEAT IN A FREEZER. WE ALSO FOUND STURGEON EGGS IN A REFRIGERATOR PRESUMABLY SOON TO BE PROCESSED INTO CAVIAR. >> IN MARCH, WILDLIFE OFFICIALS PULLED OVER TWO OF THE SUSPECTS. THEY FOUND A 91-INCH STURGEON IN THE TRUNK. >> THAT GRN EESTURGEON WAS OUT OF THE WATER FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS. WE DIDN’T THINK WE COULD SAVE IT . THEY SPENT 90 MINUTES WITH A. THEY PUT WADERS ON, WENT IONT THE WATER, AND PUT WATER OVER THE FISH’S GILS TO JUST TRY TO SAVE IT, IT KEPT ROLLING OVER AND GOING BELLY UP. ABOUT AN HOUR INTO IT, THEY THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE OK AND IT STARTED TO SWIM AWAY, IT SWAM AWAY ABOUT 25 YARDS AND IT ROLLED OVER BELLY UP. THEY GRABBED IT AND PULLEDT I BACK OVER TO THE BOAT RAMPND A EYTH SPENT ANOTHER 30 MINUTES WITH THAT AND THEN IT FINALLY DID ACTUALLY SWAM AWAY AND DIDN’T GO BELLY UP. >> ONE STURGEON SAVED, AS OFFICIALS CONTINUE TO INVESTIGATE TRYING TO PROTECT A SPECIES NATIVE TO CALIFORNIA. >> THEY ARE ONE OF THE HIGHEST PRIORITY SPECIES FOR PROTECTION FROM POACHERS, BUT ALSO NOW ATTH WE ARE IN THIS HISTORIC DROUGHT, WE HAVE THAT MUCH OF A GREATER THREAT TO THE VERY SPECIES SURVIVAL. THIS IS A BIG CONCERN FOR US, BUT THE DROUGHT AND THE POACHING PRESSURE, STGEURON ARE AT RISK. >> LISA GONZALES, KCRA THREE NEWS. GULSN:TA WILDLIFE OFFICIALS SAY A COUPLE OF THEIR CASES HAVE COME FROM TIPS FROM THE COMMUN

‘Sturgeon are at risk’: Eight arrested in white sturgeon poaching operation from Sacramento Valley waterways

Eight men are accused of poaching white sturgeon from Sacramento Valley waterways and then selling the native California fish on the illegal market, authorities said.Wildlife investigators began looking into two men – Andrew Chao, 31, and Ay Pou Saechao, 35, from Oakland – last May. The two were arrested and accused of catching sturgeon, removing the eggs and selling them to four men in San Francisco. Igor, Lyudmila, Yevgeniy and Olga Petryanik, in San Francisco – all family members – were the ones Chao and Pou were selling the fish to. The family is accused of processing the sturgeon into caviar and selling it on the illegal wildlife market. “The sturgeon poachers intentionally target these really large egg-laying females which are the future of the population,” said Patrick Foy, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They take those fish, process those eggs into caviar to sell for personal profit.”During the investigation, officials discovered there was a connection between two separate cases. Chao and Saechao were found to be linked to several other sturgeon poaching suspects from Sacramento and Elk Grove. “We started following them again and independently there is another case going on some individuals who were engaged in the same type of suspected sturgeon poaching activity,” Foy said. “Ultimately, we found that they were talking to each other and it was one big group of sturgeon, suspected sturgeon poachers.”Officials believe the suspects caught a combined total of at least 36 sturgeon throughout the investigation. “The suspects were also observed catching and using juvenile salmon as bait for the sturgeon, another unlawful act,” a release on Thursday said. On March 14, wildlife officials pulled over Chao. They found a 91-inch sturgeon in the trunk, Foy told KCRA 3. He was arrested on additional charges of conspiring to poach sturgeon and possession of an oversized sturgeon. “That green sturgeon was out of the water for a couple of hours, we didn’t think we could save it… They spent 90 mins, they put waders on, went into the water, and put water over the fish’s gills to just try to save it, it kept rolling over and going belly up… about an hour into it, they thought it was going to be okay and it started to swim away, it swam away about 25 yards and it rolled over belly up,” Foy said.He said the fish finally swam away – and with one sturgeon saved, officials continued to investigate, trying to protect a species native to California.”They are one of the highest priority species for protection from poachers but also now that we are in a historic drought, we have that much of a greater threat to the very species survival,” Foy said. “This is a big concern for us, from the drought, to the poaching pressure, sturgeon are at risk.”| Related | Threatened green sturgeon survives poaching, fisherman cited taking fish from waterEight search warrants were served on March 30, officials said. Chao was arrested again, along with Saechao, Huan Van Nguyen, 72, Lai Chow Saechao, 34, Ou Hin Saetern, 37, Sengon Saechao, 32, Andy Serncho Saephanh, 35, Nai Fow Saechao, 39, and Choy Gwen Saephan, 32.All of them face charges that include conspiracy to poach sturgeon and multiple violations related to sturgeon fishing. During the investigation, officials also discovered at least five unlawfully possessed deer, abalone, five illegal firearms including a full-auto handgun, a “ghost gun” with no serial number and an unlawfully possessed AR-15 assault rifle. Wildlife officials say a couple of their cases have come from tips from the community.They encourage people to reach out to their 24-hour line if they see something suspicious.

Eight men are accused of poaching white sturgeon from Sacramento Valley waterways and then selling the native California fish on the illegal market, authorities said.

Wildlife investigators began looking into two men – Andrew Chao, 31, and Ay Pou Saechao, 35, from Oakland – last May. The two were arrested and accused of catching sturgeon, removing the eggs and selling them to four men in San Francisco.

Igor, Lyudmila, Yevgeniy and Olga Petryanik, in San Francisco – all family members – were the ones Chao and Pou were selling the fish to. The family is accused of processing the sturgeon into caviar and selling it on the illegal wildlife market.

“The sturgeon poachers intentionally target these really large egg-laying females which are the future of the population,” said Patrick Foy, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They take those fish, process those eggs into caviar to sell for personal profit.”

During the investigation, officials discovered there was a connection between two separate cases. Chao and Saechao were found to be linked to several other sturgeon poaching suspects from Sacramento and Elk Grove.

“We started following them again and independently there is another case going on some individuals who were engaged in the same type of suspected sturgeon poaching activity,” Foy said. “Ultimately, we found that they were talking to each other and it was one big group of sturgeon, suspected sturgeon poachers.”

Officials believe the suspects caught a combined total of at least 36 sturgeon throughout the investigation.

“The suspects were also observed catching and using juvenile salmon as bait for the sturgeon, another unlawful act,” a release on Thursday said.

On March 14, wildlife officials pulled over Chao. They found a 91-inch sturgeon in the trunk, Foy told KCRA 3. He was arrested on additional charges of conspiring to poach sturgeon and possession of an oversized sturgeon.

“That green sturgeon was out of the water for a couple of hours, we didn’t think we could save it… They spent 90 mins, they put waders on, went into the water, and put water over the fish’s gills to just try to save it, it kept rolling over and going belly up… about an hour into it, they thought it was going to be okay and it started to swim away, it swam away about 25 yards and it rolled over belly up,” Foy said.

He said the fish finally swam away – and with one sturgeon saved, officials continued to investigate, trying to protect a species native to California.

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“They are one of the highest priority species for protection from poachers but also now that we are in a historic drought, we have that much of a greater threat to the very species survival,” Foy said. “This is a big concern for us, from the drought, to the poaching pressure, sturgeon are at risk.”

| Related | Threatened green sturgeon survives poaching, fisherman cited taking fish from water

Eight search warrants were served on March 30, officials said. Chao was arrested again, along with Saechao, Huan Van Nguyen, 72, Lai Chow Saechao, 34, Ou Hin Saetern, 37, Sengon Saechao, 32, Andy Serncho Saephanh, 35, Nai Fow Saechao, 39, and Choy Gwen Saephan, 32.

All of them face charges that include conspiracy to poach sturgeon and multiple violations related to sturgeon fishing.

During the investigation, officials also discovered at least five unlawfully possessed deer, abalone, five illegal firearms including a full-auto handgun, a “ghost gun” with no serial number and an unlawfully possessed AR-15 assault rifle.

Wildlife officials say a couple of their cases have come from tips from the community.

They encourage people to reach out to their 24-hour line if they see something suspicious.



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