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Months-Long Undercover Investigation Leads to More than 300 Criminal Charges

3:10 PM, Feb 29, 2012   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- A 15-month long undercover operation led to more than 300 criminal violations by 56 people, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The undercover investigation took place in Putnam, St. Johns, Alachua, Volusia and Marion counties. Investigators targeted people suspected of buying illegally harvested and sold protected species.

The investigation resulted in 34 felonies and 280 misdemeanors charges, according to a news release.

The various charges relate to buying and selling deer, turtles and saltwater and freshwater fish.

FWC said some individuals charged with felonies were booked into county jails Wednesday.  Two men charged with multiple counts of wildlife violations were booked into the St. Johns County Jail Wednesday.

Christoper Hobbs, 23-years-old was being held on $6,000 bond for 16 different charges related to the investigative work undercover officers did.

Also arrested was 25-year-old David Hays.  Hays is charged with five crimes related to the illegal possession and/or taking of wild turkey or deer.

"Our undercover officers did a phenomenal job of identifying individuals who were profiting from the illegal commercialization of fish and wildlife," said Capt. Gregg Eason, investigative captain for the FWC's Northeast Region.

"By catching these intentional violators, the FWC is supporting the law-abiding, honest commercial and recreational fishers, recreational hunters and business owners by helping to restore balance in the competition for the resource," Eason said.

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