Four people are facing misdemeanor charges related to buying and selling black bear parts.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says three suspects from Kent County and one from Chippewa County were arrested after a multi-year investigation by the DNR’s Special Investigations Unit.
DNR Detective Lieutenant Jason Haines says there is a black market for bear parts in Asia, where they are used for medicinal purposes.
Here is the full story from the DNR:
Three residents from Kent County and another from Chippewa County have been arrested on charges related to buying and selling wildlife, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources today announced. The arrests are the result of a multiyear investigation by the DNR’s Special Investigations Unit.
The complaint originated from information gathered from confidential informants who were concerned about the illegal trade in black bear parts.
“Individuals soliciting for the purchase of black bear parts creates a market for the illegal parts and provides a financial incentive for poachers to take the animals during closed seasons, in excess of established limits and by unlawful methods,” said DNR Detective Lt. Jason Haines, who heads the investigative unit. “There is a black market for black bear parts in Asia, where the parts are used for medicinal purposes.”
In all, 11 misdemeanors were charged among the three male, and one female, defendants.
Each of the charges carries a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail, plus $1,500 reimbursement for each animal illegally purchased.
The Kent County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office authorized charges against the following individuals, who are Grand Rapids-area residents:
- Tuan Hoa Pham, 52, of Kentwood, Michigan, was charged with one count of buying bear parts and one count of buying sport-caught fish.
- Hoang Linh-Duy Tran, 45, of Wyoming, Michigan, was charged with two counts of buying a black bear.
- Hoa Trung Huynh, 51, of Kentwood, Michigan, was charged with one count of illegally possessing black bear parts and one count of aiding and abetting the purchase of black bear parts.
The three defendants were arrested and lodged in the Kent County Jail in Grand Rapids. They have waived arraignment and are scheduled for a pretrial hearing Aug. 27, in Kent County District Court.
In the Upper Peninsula, the Chippewa County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office issued a five-count warrant against a Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, man:
- Hieu Van Hoang, 45, was charged with purchasing bear and deer parts.
Hoang was served the warrants in the Chippewa County Jail in Sault Ste. Marie, where he is being detained on a felony of allegedly attempting to murder his wife.
Hoang was arraigned on the wildlife misdemeanors in Chippewa County District Court. A pretrial hearing on those charges is set for Aug. 18.
“The Special Investigations Unit plays a vital role investigating and arresting major violators and its cases often include interstate and international violations,” said DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler. “The unit’s role in the law enforcement division is to use undercover investigations and the latest in technology and forensics to apprehend poachers and others who are illegally commercializing fish and game in our state.”
Hagler said the investigative unit works with DNR conservation officers to build strong cases and to protect Michigan’s natural resources.
Anyone with information on the illegal commercialization of any Michigan fish or wildlife or any other natural resources violations is encouraged to call the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.