Natural Resources Police Handle Poaching Violations and Others
Maryland Natural Resources Police officers handled oyster, striped bass and crab poaching violations and arrested a man on drug and stolen vehicle charges in recent cases.
A Wicomico County waterman had his commercial oyster license permanently revoked after a hearing in Annapolis by an administrative law judge.
Hans Eric Kuntze, 59, of Nanticoke, has until Sept. 29 to appeal the decision.
On June 28, Kuntze was seen dredging for oysters more than 200 feet inside the Nanticoke River Sanctuary by officers conducting surveillance. When he returned to the dock at Cedar Hill Harbor, officers inspected the seven and one-half bushels and found all the oysters to be of legal size.
Kuntze was given citations for harvesting wild oysters from a sanctuary, harvesting oysters in a closed season, failing to have his commercial license available for inspection and failing to have a proper waste container on board. The oysters were returned to the sanctuary.
At his hearing, Kuntze argued that one of the markers used to set the boundary of a lease area inside the sanctuary, where he had permission to harvest, was off its correct position. He also insisted that swift current could have pushed him into the restricted area.
But Judge Ann Kehinde noted that Kuntze had GPS on his boat and had received from state officials maps and coordinates of the sanctuary. She concluded that state officials had “established by a preponderance of the evidence that [Kuntze] took oysters located more than 200 feet within a closed or prohibited area.”
On July 29, Kuntze received citations for possessing 97 undersized male crabs and having eight female crabs in a mixed bushel.
After an inspection revealed the violations, Kuntze told officers his crab gauge must be wrong. However, he did not take up an officer’s offer to check it. Officers seized the crabs and returned them to the water.
Kuntze is required to appear in Wicomico County District Court to answer for both citations because of previous convictions for the same offenses. The June oyster charges also remain active on the court docket.
Three men were charged with nine counts of illegal fishing in Dorchester County Sept. 12 after officers caught them with 27 undersized striped bass.
Juan Miguel Salmeron Martinez, 29, of Clinton; Oscar David Arias, 34, of Rockville; and Julio Rodriguez, 44, of Hyattsville received citations for possessing undersized striped bass, possessing fish in excess of the limit, and fishing outside legal hours.
Officers on surveillance watched the three men fish from a small boat under Ferry Bridge on Hoopers Island shortly after midnight. The boat did not have the required navigational lights. When they returned to shore, they were stopped and their catch seized.
Arias also received a citation for not having navigational lights on his boat and Martinez received a citation for not having three life jackets aboard the boat.
The three men must appear in Dorchester County District Court on the striped bass charges. Their hearing has been set for Nov. 16. If found guilty, each man faces a maximum fine of $4,500.
A St. Mary’s County waterman was charged on Labor Day with illegally harvesting crabs after officers intercepted his boat as it docked and found he had 210 undersized crabs on board.
Brian John Pierce, 41, of Piney Point, was seen harvesting crabs just off Point Lookout at about 2:20 p.m., almost an hour after legal time. A worker aboard his boat, the McKenzie Leigh, was seen throwing empty bait boxes overboard.
When they measured four bushels, the officers found they contained 46, 48, 50 and 66 undersized hard crabs. Pierce received citations for each bushel and a citation for harvesting after the legal time limit.
His crewman, Roger Lee Wathen Jr., 24, of Piney Point, received a citation for littering a state waterway. The crabs were returned to state waters.
The men are scheduled to appear in St. Mary’s County District Court Dec. 1.
In July 2015, Pierce and Wathen were found guilty of possessing 3,500 pounds of undersized croaker and other prohibited species during an inspection at the Town Creek pier. They were each fined $600 and placed on probation until Oct. 1, 2017.
***************************A Virginia man who drove a stolen pick-up truck into a Natural Resources Police parking lot at 2:30 a.m. last Saturday was arrested on multiple drug charges.
Jorge Albert Velasquez Rodriguez, 23, of Sterling, was charged with one felony count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, two felony counts of in connection with the theft of a 2008 Toyota Tacoma truck and one count of drug and paraphernalia possession.
An officer was getting into his patrol truck in Annapolis when the truck pulled into the lot. The officer noticed three men in the cab and two men laying in the bed of the truck. After calling for backup, the officer checked the driver’s name and the license plate on the truck and learned that Rodriguez’s license had been revoked and that the truck was stolen.
Officers recovered a small bag discarded in the grass by Rodriguez and found it contained 17 wrapped packages of what was suspected to be marijuana. They also seized a small scale.
A hearing date has not been set in Anne Arundel County District Court.