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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Alaska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Southeast and Southcentral Residences charged with illegally transporting, possessing and selling marine mammals

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that two Southeast Alaska residents, Raymond P. Chatham, 65, of Edna Bay, Alaska, and Joshua Wodyga, 31, of Ketchikan; Alaska, and two Southcentral Alaska residents, John K. Boone, 55, of Valdez, Alaska, and David K. Johnson, 53, of Anchorage, Alaska, were charged with crimes under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

            Raymond Chatham was charged with illegally transporting 87 dead sea otters and illegal possession of marine mammal parts; in this case, 14 sea otter skulls arising from activities in 2008.  Joshua Wodyga, was also charged with one count of illegally selling a sea otter hide. In other filings, John K. Boone was charged with illegally selling two sea otter hides, while David K. Johnson was charged with one illegal sale of a sea otter hide and one count of illegally selling an unhandicrafted walrus tusk.  These charges also arose from activities undertaken in 2008.

            The charges arose from Operation Enhydra, an investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service into the illegal selling of marine mammal parts. Since the investigation ended, 5 individuals have pled guilty and have been sentenced for the illegal take and sale of sea otters, sea otter parts, Steller’s Sea Lion parts, and spotted seal skin parts being sold for commercial gain.

            The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS-OLE) led the investigation that led to the prosecution of these individuals and the investigation benefitted significantly from the support of Alaska Wildlife Troopers, NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement, U. S. Forest Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshals Service, the State of Alaska Attorney General’s Office, the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement, and the U. S. Attorney’s Office.

Updated January 29, 2015