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St. Johns County men arrested in undercover operation by Fish and Wildlife officials

March 1, 2012

From St. Augustin.com

ST. AUGUSTINE
 
St. Johns County men arrested in undercover operation by Fish and Wildlife officials: Three St. Johns County men were among those arrested Wednesday following an investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that spanned five counties.
 
The 15-month operation targeted individuals who illegally harvested, bought and sold protected species of the states fish and wildlife resources.
 
There were more than 300 criminal violations by 56 individuals in Putnam, St. Johns, Alachua, Volusia and Marion counties, according to a report from FWC. Charges include 34 felonies and 280 misdemeanors related to buying and selling deer, turtles, and saltwater and freshwater fish.
 
The three men arrested in St. Johns County in connection with the investigation were Christopher Lee Hobbs, 23, of St. Augustine; David Page Hays, 25, of Hastings; and James Thomas Sims, 28, of Elkton.
 
Sims and Hays were both charged with felonies and misdemeanors relating to the illegal possession and sale of deer, said Joy Hill, FWC public information officer. Hobbs was charged with misdemeanors relating to the illegal sale of saltwater products and selling saltwater products without a valid license.
 
Our undercover officers did a phenomenal job identifying individuals who were profiting from the illegal commercialization of fish and wildlife,
said Capt. Gregg Eason, investigative captain for the FWCs Northeast Region. When people illegally buy and sell fish and wildlife, they are depleting not only the resource, but also the profits that could be made by legitimate, law-abiding businesses that deal in legal fish and wildlife.
 
* Who: Hays, David Page, 25, Hastings. Charge: Illegal possession or sale of deer or wild turkey five counts. (SJCSO)
 
* Who: Hobbs, Christopher Lee, 23, St. Augustine. Charge: Florida administrative code violation two counts; selling, purchasing or attempting to sell or purchase any saltwater product with a suspended license 10 counts; possession of any species of trout, snook, or redfish which is three fish in excess of the recreational or commercial daily bag
limit three counts; conservation violation one count. (SJCSO)

* Who: Sims, James Thomas, 28, Elkton. Charge: Illegal taking or possession of deer or wild turkey six counts. (SJCSO)

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