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RIDE RED,HONDA!
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Judge fillets felonious fishermen

By Scott E. Williams
The Daily News Published July 22, 2006

GALVESTON - U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent gave maximum sentences Friday to two men on a commercial fishing boat whose red snapper catch violated several environmental laws.

When the fishing vessel Thanh Tam returned to its dock in Port Bolivar on March 1, 2005, federal and state agents were waiting.

Agents of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found a hidden compartment in the boat.

Inside the compartment were more than 5,600 pounds of red snapper, in addition to more than 2,000 pounds of red snapper in the ship's main hold.

The legal limit for red snapper is 2,000 pounds a trip.

Many of the fish were under the legal size, according to an affidavit filed last year by NOAA Special Agent Richard Cook.

The ship's captain, Hoang Nguyen, and crewmember Tam Van Le had both pleaded guilty to charges of concealing the import of illegal goods. Their punishment hearings were Friday morning in Galveston's federal courthouse.

Defense attorneys for both men labeled the crimes as largely victimless - "except for the little fishies," as Judge Kent noted.

However, the judge said that overfishing created other victims - consumers, as well as commercial and recreational fishermen who would not catch those fish "because they were already dead."

Kent also said the hidden hold and the network the men had set up to sell their illegal catches showed that theirs had been a well-planned scheme to flout federal limits.

"This isn't a couple of stupid guys who found something floating in the ocean and said, 'Ooh, let's take it to the pawn shop,'" he said

Nguyen received a term of 30 months in prison, while Le received 21 months.

Georgiann Cerese, a Washington D.C.-based prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice's environment and natural resources division, tried both cases.

After the sentences, she said the federal and state agents' thoroughness made the outcome inevitable.

Both men are legal immigrants from Southeast Asia.

"I have always been a supporter of immigration," Judge Kent said during Le's sentencing. "I firmly believe that Lazarus' poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty has meaning. However, my empathy with immigration ends abruptly at the feet of someone who comes here to commit a crime."

Kent concluded his remarks to Le with the judge's hope that the sentences would send a message that "this type of poaching is absolutely unacceptable."
 

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GOOD!!!!!! The only shame is who knows how long this had been going on with them. BUT, it is a start....... Like I've always said,,,,, "baby steps". It starts there, we can only hope this will lead to a brisk walk, jog, the all out sprint AGAINST the resource THIEVES!!!!!!

Victor
 

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snapper bust

Howdy,
Good news, but was there any fine? Also, who is the permit-holder? What is the status of his permit? Does he just have another immigrant out there fishing on his permit?
Tom Hilton
 

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Academy Sports & Outdoors Manager
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This is a good start but obviously there are others out there who will continue to do this. I hope in the near future there will be the stiff fines that Tom has suggested as well as vessel siezures to go along with the prison time.

Great Job to the agents who got this one! :cheers:
 

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Salty Dawg
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Tom Hilton said:
Howdy,
Good news, but was there any fine? Also, who is the permit-holder? What is the status of his permit? Does he just have another immigrant out there fishing on his permit?
Tom Hilton
These are good points Tom. What I get from the article is that "the judge gave maximum sentences". I think that this is why we need to back the RFA and Jim Smarr with there efforts to make it very very painful for poachers when they get caught.
 

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Chillin'
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Calmday said:
These are good points Tom. What I get from the article is that "the judge gave maximum sentences". I think that this is why we need to back the RFA and Jim Smarr with there efforts to make it very very painful for poachers when they get caught.
Couldn't agree more. The punishment should fit the crime ... but more importantly, the pain must outweight the gain. The hardest part has got to be identifying the violators.
 

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why did it revert to an immigration issue? this is a couple of law breaking ***holes that needed more than a slap on the wrist. revoke the fishing liscense they were using and ban that vessel from all comercial fishing. that's the only way to stop this.
 

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got to agree. nothing about immigration to do with this case. just a couple of ******** screwing up the resources
 

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We will never catch em all but every little bit helps. Maybe with Jim Smarr trying to ramp up the punishment these losers might think twice before loading up on illeagal fish.
 

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Here is a link to the Department of Justice release about this bust dated 11-29-05. Note the last paragraph referencing 5 Years and $250,000.00 fine.

http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2005/November/05_enrd_634.html

Talked to a couple of TPWD employees at GYB friday who had just come from the sentencing hearing. No question they were quite pleased to see their hard work pay off.
If I understood correctly the fate of the vessel and the permit is still to be determined.

Jay
Pearland, Tx
 
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