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Media Contact: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — Feb. 24, 2010

Three Men Charged With Poaching on King Ranch

RAYMONDVILLE — A Willacy County grand jury has returned indictments against three Valley men charged with illegally killing a deer on the King Ranch.

Named in the indictments, which were based on an investigation made by South Texas Game Wardens William Plumas and Ira Zuniga, were Rene Efrain Flores, 67, a retired Willacy County resident; Carlos Carmen Garza, 71, a retired engineer and Willacy County landowner and Jesus Raymundo Valdez, 29, a McAllen attorney. All were charged with taking a wildlife resource (white-tailed deer) without consent of the landowner, a state jail felony. In addition, Flores was indicted on a Class C misdemeanor charge of not tagging a deer; Garza with unlawful possession of a firearm, a third-degree felony and Valdez with criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor.

Games Wardens became involved in the case on Dec. 12 when Plumas received a telephone call from an area rancher who reported seeing two men on the Norias Division of the King Ranch in the process of lifting a dead eight-point buck across a fence to two other men. The landowner and one of his hunting guides stopped and talked to the men with the deer, but left after they refused to say where they had shot the buck.

Working with a King Ranch security officer and a deputy constable, the two wardens found blood on the roadway where the witnesses had seen the deer being loaded into the back of a pickup. The wardens were able to follow drag marks and blood to the fence, where they also found blood and hair. Checking inside the fence, they officers found more blood as well as the point where the deer had been standing when shot.

The citizen who initially contacted Plumas identified one of the men he had seen and described the vehicle the deer had been placed in. A short time later, the wardens and other officers located the vehicle and interviewed its occupants — three men and a juvenile.

An untagged buck was found in the bed of the pickup truck, along with two bolt-action rifles and a semi-automatic pistol. The deer and weapons were confiscated while the three adults were released pending further investigation.

All three defendants are free on personal recognizance pending an arraignment hearing. The case will be handled by Willacy County District Attorney Bernard W. Ammerman.

While the tip in this case came directly to a game warden, anyone with information concerning a game law violation is urged to contact Operation Game Thief, the state’s wildlife "crime-stoppers" program. The OGT program operates a 24-hour, toll-free hotline to report crimes, 800-792-GAME. Rewards of up to $1,000 may be paid to callers, who may remain anonymous. Rewards and hotline operations are entirely funded with private donations. For more information, visit http://www.ogttx.com/.

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