| | 56 charged in wild game bust
Two Hawthorne-area men and one from Marion County were among 56 charged with various wildlife and fish violations by the state following an undercover investigation that resulted in 300 criminal counts.
The 15-month investigation was aimed at people who illegally kill, buy or sell fish and wildlife such as deer and hogs, said Joy Hill of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“We had undercover officers who basically integrated themselves into this society. For 15 months, this is what they were doing and one thing led to another,” Hill said. “The more they got into it, the further out it spread. It was all different kinds of wildlife involved — freshwater game fish, salt water fish, shrimp, a bear.”
Among those charged was Dakotah Cassels, 23, of Putnam County near Hawthorne. Hill said Cassels’ charges include 25 misdemeanors and four felonies.
The allegations include illegally killing hogs and deer from the Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area in Alachua County, selling freshwater fish without a commercial license, selling freshwater game fish including bream and bass, and selling frog legs.
Cassels’ father, Elmer, was located and jailed in Polk County on two felony and seven misdemeanors, for taking game out of Lochloosa, selling deer and possessing live deer.
Also charged was a Marion County man. However, his name was not released because he had not been arrested, Hill said.
Hill added that most of those arrested were from Putnam and St. Johns counties.
“Some of the people — it’s been in their family for a long time. They grew up a certain way and maybe things were legal then. But when they became illegal, they just chose to ignore that,” Hill said.
Born on a mountain raised in a cave huntin and fishin is all I crave