David, a commercial fisherman from English, Indiana, was just served. On May 10, at least 50 federal agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service descended on his house in order to serve a warrant. The charge? Unlawfully opening one fish while not in a licensed facility.
"There was as many as you could possibly put on my stairway with assault rifles and down here on the ground pointing them at me."
"I said, 'You serve all your warrants like this for an illegal fish?'"
Raid allegedly came after informant encouraged bad behavior on the water
David runs Midwest Caviar. He seeks out paddlefish on the Ohio River for their eggs. That caviar must be removed in a legal facility, and he knows that.
Last season, though, he was fishing near Troy when the question came up. He suspected one fish was too small and suggested they throw it back.
Another man on the boat repeatedly encouraged him not to. "I said throw the fish back, and time and time again he said, 'Let's just take them [the eggs] out. Let's just take them out.'"
"I know you don't know me, and they can believe what they want but ... that's the first time I've ever done that in my fishing career, and that's the God's honest truth," David says.
That man urging the illegal fish opening turned out to be an informant, or an undercover agent.
During the raid on May 10, David says, the agents seized $20,000 in cash and checks, over $50,000 worth of caviar, his fishing records, one of his fishing boats and a truck.
"They took everything we had," he told reporters.
Fish-related raid probably isn't the whole story, fisherman says
Interestingly, David's son's and his son in law's commercial fishing operations were also raided -- and no one has been arrested so far.
David suspects the raid was actually intended to target another business, Close Encounters Exotics, a wildlife preserve he used to operate. That was closed down due to a separate federal investigation. All that remains of Close Encounters Exotics is a horse and a few goats.
This case illustrates how confusing and threatening it can be when you encounter federal agents. You may not even know what they're truly looking for. They may take your money and property. They may bring 50 agents to serve a warrant.
The point is, the government has immense resources at its disposal, and it is more than happy to use them against you. If you believe you are under investigation by either Indiana authorities or the federal government, you need a lawyer now.