The following items are from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
On the evening of July 2, Val Verde County game wardens responded to a call for help in a medical emergency from canoers that were paddling the Devils River. The group of 12 paddlers was reporting a death of one of the groups along a very remote section of the river. The wardens coordinated with State Parks personnel to get the County Sheriff’s Evidence/Crime Scene Unit and the justice of the peace to the location. Due to the remote area of the incident, the coordination for extraction of the deceased, the 11 remaining paddlers, their equipment and canoes and transport of all personnel turned into a 12-hour operation. The 25-year-old victim had died of natural causes.
Running from the Law
Game wardens were checking bank fishing in Delta County when they encountered a subject whom they had arrested recently on drug possession and weapons charges. During a pat down search of the subject, they found drug paraphernalia in his pants pocket. When the wardens attempted to arrest the subject, he violently resisted and assaulted both wardens. The wardens were able to subdue the suspect and take him into custody. However, while waiting for a transport unit from the Greenville Police Department to arrive, the subject fled on foot while handcuffed. Wardens gave chase and captured the subject, who was attempting to hide near a fence. The Game Wardens filed multiple felony charges against the subject.
Stuck in the Mud
Harris County game wardens were patrolling an area for reported poaching activity. At dusk, they spotted a truck trespassing along a power line easement on county property. The truck attempted to drive away, and the wardens split up and moved to intercept it at one of two exit points further ahead of the vehicle. After dark, they located the truck and its occupants near the easement stuck in the mud on a flood control levee. After discharging a 12-gauge shotgun to signal others, they detained the suspects. Subsequent interviews revealed the subjects were trespassing and hunting hogs on county property without landowner consent. Officers seized a 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition and a flashlight. Charges are pending.
Caught on Camera Stealing Cameras
A Grimes County game warden responded to a call from a landowner stating he had captured video of a suspect stealing game cameras and battery packs off his property. After reviewing the video evidence, the warden was able to link this case to an investigation earlier this year regarding the same individual. The suspect was awaiting trial in the Brazos County Jail for burglary of a habitation. The warden made contact with the Brazos County district attorney and handed over all information regarding the suspect in this case. New charges of criminal trespassing and theft are currently pending.
A Matagorda County game warden was checking bank fisherman when he observed an individual throwing a cast net and placing mullet in a large ice chest. When the warden made contact with the person, he admitted to not having a fishing license and did not have any other identification. He also stated he was catching mullet to sell to bait camps for another person under their bait dealer’s license. The warden could smell marijuana when he approached the individual, and when he asked about it, the subject took off running. The officer gave chase and observed the subject throw some substance in the salt grass while running. He was able to catch the subject and place him in handcuffs. The subject admitted that he had a small amount of marijuana and he threw it while running away. A brief search along their back trail revealed a small clear plastic bag that contained marijuana residue. The subject told the warden that he was scared and did not want to go back to jail. He was just released from jail the day before, after being placed on probation for running from the police. The warden transported the subject to the Matagorda County Jail where they charged him with evading arrest/detention, tampering with physical evidence, and no fishing license.
A Downed Fence is Still a Fence
A Dimmit County game warden was patrolling for fishing enforcement when he spotted a pickup truck parked behind a cluster of trees, up against a fence, quite a distance from the river bridge. Upon closer inspection, several fishing related items were in the bed of the pickup. Figuring that the person, or persons, possibly jumped the fence next to the truck to fish further down river, the warden and an assisting county sheriff’s deputy, initiated a search for the vehicle’s owner. They made contact with a local man and his son who were returning from the river through the private property and led them back to the truck. When they informed the man that they were trespassing, the man stated, “I thought it was OK to go into the property because part of the fence was pushed down from the last flood.” They issued the man a citation for trespassing. The case is pending.
Failed Illegal Entry
Game wardens were patrolling the Rio Grande by boat when they observed five individuals swimming across the river in an attempt to make illegal entry into the United States. Upon seeing the wardens, the people turned back for the Mexican shoreline. Four of the five successfully returned to Mexico, but one struggled on the U.S. side of the river. The individual was unable to stay above water and began actively drowning. The wardens rescued the person and pulled him aboard their vessel. The person was brought back to the boat ramp and turned over to U.S. Border Patrol.
Over the July 4 extended holiday weekend, game wardens patrolling Lake Travis around Lakeway and Rough Hollow observed a boat pass by with an individual standing up at the front bow “surfing.” Upon seeing the warden boat, the subject sat down, and several other occupants appeared to be hiding items in several compartments as the officers initiated a stop. In all, there were ten people on the boat ranging in age from 15-18 years old. A strong odor of alcohol was apparent along with a large quantity of evidence of alcoholic beverage consumption. They escorted the boat and occupants ashore where they administered field sobriety tests on the vessel’s operator, who they identified as being 16 years of age with a blood alcohol level of 0.196. Due to the degree of intoxication of the teenagers, their demeanor, and several attempts by a few to leave the scene or incite violence and interfere with the investigation, the wardens called for assistance from other law enforcement agencies. Multiple cases were filed and are pending.
Snagged in the Act of Snagging
Smith County game wardens were patrolling by truck around Lake Palestine when they observed a man in the water at an old boat ramp using a metal pole with a large treble hook affixed to one end trying to catch flathead catfish. After making contact, they issued citations for fishing with illegal means and methods and no fishing license.
Bucked Off and Busted
A Montgomery County game warden responded to a reported boat accident on Lake Conroe where a personal watercraft operator had hit a wave, was ejected from his jet ski and could not pull himself back. When the warden was asking the operator about the accident, he believed alcohol could be involved. After a complete investigation, the operator was arrested for boating while intoxicated. The case is pending.