Convictions In Intricate Ventura County Poaching Crimes Include Fines, Jail Time

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

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Ventura County Poaching Convictions Result in Jail Terms and Fines

A sophisticated conspiracy to commit wildlife violations by seven men resulted in the arrest, prosecution, fines and jail terms for the subjects, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and Ventura County District Attorney’s (VCDA) Office announced.

Wildlife officers began investigating a group of subjects after receiving numerous tips from the public regarding a group of individuals engaged in suspected poaching activities in the southern Los Padres National Forest.

The investigation revealed the co-defendants obtained a highly unusual amount of replacement licenses and hunting tags issued from a CDFW license vendor. The men conspired with a clerk at a market to fraudulently obtain additional tags to exceed big game hunting limits. In total, 87 licenses, tags, or other entitlements were fraudulently obtained.

The long-term investigation occurred in partnership with the VCDA Environmental Protections Unit and resulted in the service of several search warrants. The search warrants resulted in the seizure of numerous taxidermy mounts, deer skulls, a mountain lion skull, a variety of game meat including deer and bear, fraudulent big game tags, 11 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, roosters and cock fighting paraphernalia and stolen copper wire.\During the year after the search warrants were served, wildlife officers continued to conduct an extensive investigation, which led to the search of a local taxidermy shop that resulted in the discovery of additional evidence, including an illegally taken bear and a fraudulently acquired bear tag.

“Seven suspects conspiring to poach wildlife in a concentrated area over years will begin to adversely affect local wildlife populations,” said Nathaniel Arnold, Acting Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “The intensive investigation by wildlife officers in conjunction with diligent prosecution will dismantle this criminal activity and send a message that poaching will not be tolerated.”

The VCDA’s Office arranged a plea agreement with all seven co-defendants. The plea agreement stipulated that all co-defendants plead guilty to counts of felony conspiracy for the unlawful take/possession of wildlife and for filing false documents with the state. The plea also stipulated the defendants each serve 180 to 220 days in jail, 24 months formal probation, and a lifetime prohibition of hunting and fishing privileges in the state of California.

“Poaching is a serious crime. It harms the environment and our precious wildlife. The court understood the seriousness of the defendants’ conduct and gave them appropriate jail sentences to hold them accountable. We greatly appreciate the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for all they do,” said Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Karen Wold, who prosecuted the case.

Arrested and sentenced were Martin Bravo Jr., 31, of Oxnard; Martin Bravo Sr., 61, of Oxnard; Jaime Mendoza Avila, 42, of Porterville; Gilberto Lopez Hernandez, 36, of Thousand Oaks; Walfre Lopez Y Lopez, 39, of Oxnard; Cristian Lopez Perez, 33, of Los Angeles; and Juventino Reyes Guererro, 45, of Piru. Sentencing details for each subject available upon request.