Oyster Company and 12 Others Indicted for Illegally Harvesting Raw Oysters
LAFAYETTE, LA (STL.News) Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging a Cameron Parish company and 12 individuals with illegal harvesting and selling raw oysters in violation of the Lacey Act.
Those charged in the indictment are as follows:
Bay Fresh Oyster Company, Inc. (“BFO”), with its principal place of business in San Leon, Texas, and which also maintained and operated a location in Cameron, Louisiana;
Adley Leo Dyson, 48, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Clarence Dyson, III, 46, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Kirk Patrick Daigle, 47, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Brandon Kent Duhon, 24, of Lake Charles, Louisiana;
Kent Anthony Duhon, 58, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Robert Alton Watson, 41, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Kerwin Tyler Perry, 25, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Jenson Kyle Griffith, 28, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Kasey Lyn Mock, 28, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Terry Wayne Dickens, 41, of Cameron, Louisiana;
Phillip Cecil Dyson, 59, of Cameron, Louisiana; and
Phillip Cecil Dyson, II, 38, of Cameron, Louisiana.
The indictment alleges that from approximately March 1, 2019 through May 5, 2019, BFO and the 12 named co-defendants listed above (“Defendants”), conspired to harvest raw oysters from Calcasieu Lake in violation of Louisiana law and knowingly made and submitted and caused to be submitted, false records for those harvested oysters that were intended to be transported in interstate commerce.
According to the indictment, the Defendants knowingly engaged in conduct that involved the sale and purchase of oysters knowing that they had been taken in violation of the laws and regulations of Louisiana. The indictment further alleges that oysters were not reported as required; oysters were harvested in amounts in excess of those authorized by state law to be harvested; oysters were harvested during illegal harvesting hours; oysters were not refrigerated within the required time by state law; oysters were harvested by those who failed to possess a valid Calcasieu Lake Harvest Permit or whose permit had been revoked; oysters were falsely reported as being harvested by those with valid permits; and oysters were harvested from areas closed to oyster harvesting.
The illegally harvested oysters were then sold by the harvester and purchased by BFO at its Cameron, Louisiana, location where records were falsified to reflect that the oysters had been harvested in compliance with Louisiana law. BFO subsequently transported those oysters across state lines to their facility in San Leon, Texas. Sacks of oysters were not tagged prior to removal from the vessels as required by Louisiana law but were later tagged by BFO employees and agents as being harvested by harvesters other than the actual harvesters. Oysters had been harvested by harvesters with revoked permits, were harvested in excess of the sack limit set by Louisiana law, and/or were harvested outside the harvesting hours set by Louisiana law. The indictment alleges that the harvesting and dealing in raw oysters in violation of state law violated the federal Lacey Act, which among other things, makes it unlawful to transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate commerce any fish or wildlife that is taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any state.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
An initial appearance for the Defendants has been set for March 10, 2021.
The U.S. Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries are conducting the investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Ayo is prosecuting the case.