Two Fresno anglers were accused of repeatedly hauling in more than they were entitled to, and now it’s landed them in even deeper legal waters.
Leepo Her, 32, and Kue Her, 35, were arrested last week on suspicion of illegally selling striped bass, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced.
It was the culmination of an investigation by state wildlife officers, who said they had multiple interactions with the two men as they fished throughout the Central Valley. The men were questioned several times, according to a Fish and Wildlife news release, and found in violation of regulations that included exceeding possession limits and retaining undersized bass.
The two were cited eight times in the past year, the agency stated, and that pattern led wildlife officers to suspect potential trafficking of the fish on a black market.
Sport fishing for striped bass generates millions of dollars per year for the state economy, according to the agency, but the commercial take of wild striped bass has been outlawed for more than 70 years. Even for sport anglers, fish must be a minimum of 18 inches in length.
Multiple search warrants served at two homes led wildlife officers to discover live crappie and bluegill in an aquarium as well as frozen striped bass and evidence of a marijuana cultivation and sales operation. Methamphetamine and evidence of methamphetamine sales also were recovered, investigators reported.
Evidence collected during the probe indicates the men made thousands of dollars through the illegal sale of striped bass.
“This is another example of the threat that wildlife trafficking places upon a species,” David Bess, chief of the department’s Law Enforcement Division, said in the news release. “The fish and wildlife of California belong to all the citizens of the state and cannot sustain the abusive greed of traffickers.”
Potential charges include violations of numerous Department of Fish and Wildlife codes, various drug counts and possible child endangerment. Penalties could include jail as well as fines and forfeiture of assets and equipment.
Anyone with information about unlawful fishing, hunting or pollution can make a report through CDFW CalTIP, a confidential program that encourages the public to provide wildlife officers with information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The number is 888-334-2258.