Three Plead Guilty to Importing White-Tailed Deer in Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Miss. – Coleman Virgil Slade, 70, of Purvis, Mississippi, Don Durrett, 72, of Aspermont, Texas, and Dewayne Slade, 44, of Purvis, Mississippi, pled guilty on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act by 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 (USDA OIG).
Coleman Virgil Slade pled guilty to a felony conspiracy count. He will be sentenced on November 21, 2016, by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Don Durrett and Dewayne Slade pled guilty to a misdemeanor conspiracy count and were each sentenced to a $10,000 fine, placed on three years of probation, and prohibited from hunting for one year.
According to the guilty pleas, from January of 2009 through December of 2012, the Slades and Durrett spent over $100,000 to purchase live white-tailed deer for delivery from Texas to Mississippi. It is illegal to import live white-tailed deer into Mississippi. However, the deer were transported to Lamar County, Mississippi, and placed in a high fence enclosure. The purchases and transportation to Mississippi of the live white-tailed deer were accomplished through false purchase and transportation records.
“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. It was prosecuted by Deputy Criminal Division Chief Darren LaMarca.