California Abalone Poachers Busted

California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) wardens have arrested two repeat abalone poachers for poaching and possession of abalone for sale on the black market.

Paul Chak Po Mak, 61, and Samuel Xing Sin, 41, both of Oakland, have been charged with poaching a total of 84 abalone for commercial purposes between April 23 and May 21. The two were arrested by DFG’s Special Operations Unit (SOU) after they were observed taking large overlimits of abalone during an intensive investigation dubbed “Operation Scoop and Run.”

Wardens served search and arrest warrants on the suspect’s homes on May 24 and seized evidence including abalone report cards and dive gear. Mak was charged with the illegal take of 52 abalone and Sin was charged with the illegal take of 32 abalone.

Wardens allege the two men also “high graded” abalone, meaning they knowingly harvested far more than their daily limit of three, with the intention of taking only the largest. One seized abalone measured 10¾ inches across, which is an extremely large abalone.

Both suspects were transported and booked into Mendocino County Jail. Additional pending charges include possession of abalone and intention to sell on the black market.

In addition to previous abalone poaching convictions, Sin has a currently pending case related to abalone poaching and sales in Mendocino County. Mak is currently on probation in Sonoma County for abalone-related convictions.

Abalone typically sell for up to $100 each on the black market, and some of the bigger abalone will fetch much more.

“Profit remains the primary motive for abalone poachers,” said DFG Capt. Bob Farrell, who oversees the SOU. “Profits from black market abalone sales easily cover the hard expenses poachers expend for travel and equipment. It is clear — and disappointing — that penalties from prior convictions failed to deter either of these men.”

California Abalone Poachers Busted