Facebook Helps Wildlife Officials Bust a Poaching Ring in Nevada

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

A Facebook photo helped lead Nevada game wardens to a poaching ring.

In June of 2013, the Nevada Department of Wildlife received a tip about the photo, which featured a man posing with a dead mule deer slung over his shoulder near Hiko, Nev. It was clear that the photo wasn’t taken during the fall hunting season, and authorities launched a 16-month investigation.

The man featured in the photo, Jose Manuel Ortega-Torres, 34, was allegedly part of a larger poaching ring.

“We had a systematic killing illegal killing of wildlife,” said Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Edwin Lyngar. “We will never know the total amount that they killed.”

The Department of Wildlife eventually raided Ortega-Torres’ home, where they found more illegally hunted deer and migratory birds. The authorities also discovered fraudulently obtained hunting licenses and tags.

The evidence they obtained led them to Las Vegas, where Adrian Acevedo-Hernandez, 36, Jose Luis Montufar-Canales, 31, and J. Nemias Reyes Marin, 31, were arrested in connection with the poaching ring. 

According to authorities, Acevedo-Hernandez, Montufar-Canales and Marin are most likely undocumented immigrants to the United States. It is a felony for undocumented people in the U.S. to possess firearms; they are currently in federal custody.

Though the Nevada Department of Wildlife did find some meat from the animals the group illegal hunted, that doesn’t seem to be the motivation behind their actions.

"People do not poach to feed their families,” Lyngar said. “In the vast majority of cases, the meat is left behind. We call these thrill killings, where people do it for their ego.”

Though many of the men have already been convicted on charges related to illegal poaching, they are still facing more legal action. 

Rob Wallin of Nevada Outfitters, a legal hunting group, said: “We’ve very proud that the Nevada Department of Wildlife caught them after a long investigation. When you do something like this, you’re 100 percent criminal. We just don’t know why they do it.” 

Sources: Fox News / Image via Nevada Department of Wildlife