Three Stockton, California men face prison and jail terms, heavy fines, a forfeited vehicle and destroyed firearms for conspiring to kill and sell deer for profit.
In June 2011, after a three-week investigation, wardens with the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) arrested Thongseuth Khounchanh, age 58, Ti Sila, age 51 and Bounleuna Sysenglath, age 59, as they returned from an all-night poaching trip in El Dorado County. El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Michael Pizzuti prosecuted the case and presented the court with evidence regarding the egregious nature of their poaching crimes, along with the extensive costs associated with the investigation.
The investigation was prompted by an anonymous tip received in May 2011, when a caller to the DFG Cal TIP line reported suspected deer poaching activity associated with Khounchanh, Sila and Sysenglath. Wardens conducted an extensive investigation that showed the suspects making multiple poaching trips per week, including killing everything from bucks to pregnant does. The poachers sold the deer meat as to an established network of buyers as fast as they could get it.
On February 22, 2012, visiting Placer County Judge Hon. Angus Saint-Evans found one defendant guilty of poaching-related felonies and two of poaching-related misdemeanors.
â–ª Thongseuth Khounchanh was convicted of felony conspiracy to possess deer for sale, in addition to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 16 months in state prison and was ordered by the court to forfeit his vehicle.
â–ª Ti Sila and Bounleuna Sysenglath were each convicted of three misdemeanor deer poaching-related offenses and were sentenced to 120 days in county jail, fines and penalties totaling $13,500 and three years formal supervised probation.
All weapons used in the poaching crimes were forfeited and will be destroyed.
“It took intensive effort from wardens to stop this poaching operation,” said Assistant Chief Tony Warrington of DFG’s Law Enforcement Division. “Wardens from all over the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley, including wardens from our Special Operations Unit, Delta-Bay Enhanced Enforcement Program, warden-pilots from the air services unit and the keen noses of our K-9s, collaborated to put this case together.”
To recoup costs from the intensive investigation, Judge Saint-Evans ordered restitution from the three defendants in the amount of $100,270.
Selling any deer meat in California, whether it was taken legally under a recreational hunting license or killed illegally, is a crime.
DFG encourages all Californians to report wildlife crimes to Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters by calling the CalTIP hotline at 1-888-334-2258 (DFG-CALTIP).