Tacoma man arrested in illegal game meat traffickingon September 18, 2012 @ 1:05 pm (Updated: 6:28 pm - 9/18/12 )
"The only time you can purchase game meat is if it's from a legal and licensed game farm. Wild game cannot be poached. Our deer and elk populations cannot sustain commercialization," explains Deputy Chief Mike Cenci, with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
He says the man was allegedly selling two to five animals a week, some whole, some cut into parts. They believe the man had been in business for a couple of years.
The man's arrest was a part of a statewide crackdown conducted by Fish and Wildlife officers and backed by federal law enforcement.
On Tuesday, authorities planned to serve at least 14 search warrants. The raids are being conducted as a part of two-year investigation targeting a widespread black market for elk and deer meat, and fish and animal parts, including the gall bladders of black bears and parts of raptors, or birds of prey.
Suspects include restaurant owners and employees who purchased illegal wildlife game to be sold to consumers without being inspected for safety.
The Tacoma man is one 60 people that could be arrested during the raids. As many as 400 people could face charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies based on information seized from suspects.
Cenci says their operation isn't over and they will be going after some of the Tacoma man's illegal meat conspirators.
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