TPWD News Release — June 19, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas — Acting on an Operation Game Thief (OGT) hotline tip, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens apprehended seven individuals on June 8 with more than 2,000 pounds of illegally caught snapper. The case, one of the largest seizures in Texas in recent years, resulted in citations for 26 game law violations and could result in fines and restitution of upwards of $20,000.
According to TPWD Game Warden Lt. Alan Teague, officials received a call about anglers on a shrimp vessel who were retaining every fish they were landing near an oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico 20 miles south of Corpus Christi. Game wardens intercepted the vessel in state waters, but released it after determining the suspects carried the appropriate federal permit to retain red snapper they claimed were caught in federal waters.
“As long as they were in transit, they were okay,” said Teague. “But, they got greedy and we later caught them fishing off a rig in state waters, which meant they were in violation of Texas laws. Even if they had a Texas commercial finfish license, the maximum number of red snapper they could have retained would be 28. They had over 800 fish.”
The haul was confiscated by game wardens and sold dockside for more than $4,200.
Teague noted the individuals involved, along with the boat’s owner, have a rap sheet with a collective 62 game law violations. One of the suspects has 45 previous illegal red snapper cases pending with TPWD.
Operation Game Thief is Texas' Wildlife Crime-Stoppers Program, offering rewards of up to $1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction for a wildlife crime. Begun in 1981 as a result of laws passed by the 67th Legislature to help curtail poaching, the program, a function of the Law Enforcement division of The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, is highly successful, having been responsible for the payment of over $195,000.00 in rewards. Privately funded, the program is dependent on financial support from the public through the purchase of OGT merchandise and memberships, donations, sponsorships, and gifts. To report suspected game law violations call the OGT hotline at 1-800-792-GAME.