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Natural Resources Police Charges Oyster Poacher, Seizes Illegal Eels, Arrests Drunken Driver

Oyster poaching, the illegal sale of invasive species and a drunken driving arrest were some of the recent cases handled by the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

A Smith Island waterman was charged Friday with poaching oysters from protected state waters.

Billy Gene Smith, 63, of Ewell, received a citation for taking four bushels oysters out of the Somerset sanctuary in Tangier Sound. He is scheduled to appear in Somerset District Court on April 12. If found guilty, Smith could be fined as much as $3,000.

Officers on patrol were alerted to the encroachment by the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network (MLEIN), a system of radar units and cameras that monitor the Chesapeake Bay.

Smith maneuvered his vessel, “Capt. Matt,” in and out of the sanctuary as he harvested oysters. The sanctuary boundaries are marked with white buoys, which were all found to be in their proper location.

Officers intercepted the vessel, found four bushels of oysters aboard and returned them to the sanctuary.

On Jan. 6, Smith was charged with power dredging in a non-designated area. He is scheduled to appear in Somerset District Court on March 8. In 2008, Smith was found guilty and fined $100 for taking oysters from a sanctuary and was found guilty of having crab pots in a restricted area.

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A market in Rockville was cited Monday for selling Asian eels in violation of state law.

Officers acting on a tip visited the New York Mart at 15108 North Frederick Road accompanied by a Department of Natural Resources biologist, who confirmed the presence of live Asian swamp eels, known scientifically as Monopterus albus.

Maryland law prohibits the importation, transportation, sale or purchase of the eels, categorized as an invasive species. The law also prohibits their release into state waters.

Officers met with the assistant store manager, who said the eels were shipped from the parent company in New York. He said he did not know that the eels were illegal.

The manager was issued two citations on behalf of New York Mart. The case will be heard in Montgomery District Court at a later date.
Nineteen swamp eels were seized and turned over to the department to be used for educational and/or scientific purposes.

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A Frederick man was arrested and charged with drunken driving after an officer on patrol saw him speeding and driving on the wrong side of Mapleville Road near Interstate 70.

Jarred Michael Hendricks, 45, received three citations for driving impaired and driving under the influence of alcohol and one citation for driving on the wrong side of the road. He failed a field sobriety test and registered a blood alcohol content of .08, the legal limit, when tested at the Washington County sheriff’s office.

Hendricks must appear in Washington District Court. A court date has not been set.


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