State authorities issued 14 warrants and arrested one person in Sacramento in an ongoing investigation into the poaching of Northern California coastal abalone.
An official with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said that in all, 14 people were named and accused of taking more abalone than the state allows, then selling the sea snail for about $100 apiece on the black market, sometimes directly to restaurants.
Fish and Wildlife said investigators believed the suspects are networked and could face conspiracy charges.
The search and arrest warrants were issued in Sacramento and Oakland in a years-long investigation for divers who exceed state regulations.
During Thursday's arrest, a loaded handgun was also recovered. Authorities said the suspect is an ex-convict and registered sex offender.
Throughout California, about 30,000 individuals hold cards to harvest abalone and are limited to three abalones a day and 24 a year. Photos.