Accused Alligator Gar Smugglers busted in Trinity River operation
BEAUMONT, TX – Three men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for smuggling alligator gar in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales Wednesday.
Loren Willis, 62, of Eminence, IN, Gerard Longo, 46, of Greenacres, Florida, and Michael Rambarran, 55, of Miami, were charged with Lacey Act violations, specifically conspiracy to submit a false label for fish transported in interstate commerce, conspiracy to transport fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation; and conspiracy to transport and sell fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law or regulation.
According to the indictment, on July 26, 2010, the defendants are alleged to have conspired to develop a scheme to transport fish, specifically alligator gar, harvested from the Trinity River in East Texas for the purpose of selling them in Japan.
If convicted, they each face up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
This case is being investigated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department of Special Operations Unit and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Reynaldo P. Morin.
Bales pointed out, "A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law."
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