Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

California Wardens Break Up Deer Poaching Ring

California game wardens served two search warrants on members of
a deer poaching ring early Thursday, resulting in the arrest of
three Stockton men. Wardens arrested Thongseuth Khounchanh, 58, Ti
Sila, 51, and Bounleuna Sysenglath, 59, as they returned from an
all-night poaching trip in El Dorado County. The men were charged
with killing deer and selling deer meat for profit.

“It took intensive effort from wardens to stop this poaching
operation,” said California Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
Assistant Chief Tony Warrington. “Wardens from all over the
Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, including wardens from our
Special Operations Unit, the Delta-Bay Enhanced Enforcement
Program, the air services unit and our K-9 unit, worked together to
make this case.”

On May 26, 2011, an anonymous caller to the DFG CalTIP hotline
reported suspected deer poaching activity involving Khounchanh,
Sila and Sysenglath. Local Wardens Todd Estrada and Raul Lomeli
immediately followed up on the tip and realized it led to a much
larger case involving the illegal commercialization and selling of
poached wildlife for profit. Wardens conducted an extensive
investigation that revealed the suspects made multiple illegal
poaching trips each week. The deer meat was sold as fast as they
could get it.

The three poachers illegally used lights to help identify the deer
in the darkness before using a .22 caliber rifle to make the kill.
The deer were processed in the field and the meat was transported
to the men’s homes in Stockton, where it was then sold to an
established network of buyers.

Wardens used all available resources to make observations and
collect evidence in this case, including warden K-9s that worked
with their handlers to search for deer parts, spent bullet casings
and other trace evidence. K-9 teams located parts of several
freshly killed deer, including evidence that would likely have been
missed otherwise, at multiple locations throughout El Dorado
County.

On June 22, with three arrest warrants and two search warrants in
hand, wardens waited for the poachers to start home from another
all-night poaching trip. All three men were arrested without
incident during a vehicle stop. The vehicle and all contents were
seized as evidence and will be processed by wardens and the DFG
Wildlife Forensics Lab. Wardens also served two search warrants on
the subjects’ homes, and conducted more than 20 follow-up
interviews with people suspected of purchasing deer meat from the
suspects.

Evidence collected at the houses will undergo DNA analysis to find
matches with evidence found in El Dorado County.

All three men were booked into El Dorado County Jail on charges of
felony conspiracy and commercialization of deer. Khounchanh, a
prior felon, will also face further felony charges of illegal
firearm possession.

Selling any deer meat in California, whether it was taken legally
under a recreational hunting license or killed illegally, is a
crime. DFG encourages all Californians to report wildlife crimes to
the CalTIP hotline at 1-888-334-2258 (DFG-CALTIP).

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