Three Indicted for Importing White-Tailed Deer into Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Miss. – United States Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker unsealed a federal indictment yesterday charging Coleman Virgil Slade, 70, of Purvis, Mississippi, Don Durrett, 72, of Aspermont, Texas, and Dewayne Slade, 44, of Purvis, Mississippi, with various violations of the Lacey Act for importing live white-tailed deer into Mississippi, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis, Special Agent in Charge Luis Santiago with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Special Agent in Charge Dax Roberson with the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General.
Don Durrett and Dewayne Slade appeared for arraignment today and pled not guilty to the 7- count federal indictment. Coleman Virgil Slade will be arraigned at a later date.
According to the indictment, from January of 2009 through December of 2012, the Slades and Durrett did knowingly and willfully conspire to purchase and transport in interstate commerce live white-tailed deer from Texas to Mississippi in violation of both state and federal laws. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each individual count.
"The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing the Lacey Act and other federal laws to protect our wildlife resources," said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis. "We will continue to work closely with USDA OIG, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to enforce the Lacey Act."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge Luis Santiago stated "We take our mission working with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and the citizens of Mississippi in conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats very seriously. We will continue working vigorously investigating those who choose to violate state and federal laws."
"I want to thank the US Attorney’s office, OIG special agents, and our law enforcement partners for their hard work on this investigation," said USDA OIG Special Agent in Charge Dax Roberson, "USDA OIG is committed to pursuing individuals who commit criminal violations of the Lacey Act, which is intended to protect the health and well-being of America’s wildlife."
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. The case is currently scheduled for trial on June 20, 2016 in Hattiesburg.
The public is reminded that an indictment is a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.