Ten men have been indicted in federal court for allegedly poaching walleye and other protected fish from the Red Lake and Leech Lake reservations and selling them on the black market, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.Authorities estimated the fair market value of the fish to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The charges outlined in four separate indictments date back to July 2009. The charges say some of the men took fish from Red Lake without approval of the Red Lake Fisheries Association and sold them illegally to a Bagley bar owner, who resold them.
Other defendants are accused of illegally using nets to catch fish from several lakes on the Leech Lake reservation, then selling those fish for commercial purposes. Some of the fish were sold to a restaurant owner in Bena, the indictment says.
Each man faces one count of the transportation, sale, and purchase of fish in violation of federal law. The maximum penalty is five years in prison if convicted.
The indictments seek the forfeiture of the defendants' boats and other equipment used to poach, sell or buy the fish.