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Striped Bass, Oyster, Drug and Weapons Charges Top NRP Enforcement Efforts

From nabbing anglers hiding illegal fish in their vehicles to charging a suspect who ate potential drug evidence to avoid arrest, the Maryland Natural Resources Police dealt with a wide range of activities over the past week.

Acting on a tip last Sunday, officers arrested three recreational fishermen on the Matapeake Pier on Kent Island after watching them catch and keep striped bass before the start of the season.

Omar Antonio Contreras Susa, 27, of Silver Spring, received two citations for fishing in a closed season. Officers found two striped bass wrapped in a white plastic bag in the engine compartment of his vehicle.

Jin Zhi Yan, 32, of Manassas, Va., and Francisco Diaz Melendez, 43, of Hyattsville, each received one citation. Officers found one striped bass in a plastic bag under a wooden bench on the pier and the other in the rear passenger compartment of the vehicle driven by Melendez.

All three men are scheduled to appear in Queen Anne’s District Court on July 1. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of $1,000. In addition, state law allows additional penalties of $1,500 per fish for the first offense.

Last Wednesday, a NRP officer on oyster patrol in Edge Creek in Talbot County saw a waterman harvesting with hand tongs in an area closed by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Robert Thomas Crouch, 37, of Royal Oak, was charged with commercially harvesting oysters in a restricted area. He is scheduled to appear in Talbot District Court on June 18. If found guilty, Crouch could be fined as much as $1,000 and be jailed for up to a year.

On April 3, a Towson man was charged with obstructing police, resisting arrest and possession of alcohol in a state park by a NRP officer checking a camp site at Cunningham Falls State Park after a noise complaint.

Charles Ignatius Phelan III, 32, grabbed what appeared to be marijuana and swallowed it before the officer could react. When the officer attempted to arrest Phelan, he resisted. The suspect was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital for observation as a precaution.

Phelan is scheduled to appear in Frederick District Court on May 256. If found guilty, he faces a maximum fine in excess of $5,000 and three years in jail.

On April 11 in Garrett County, a Pittsburgh man was charged with carrying a loaded handgun in a vehicle on a public highway.

Officers stopped a car driven by Darnell Duane Hooker, 28, for speeding on U.S. 40 inside state land at Keyser’s Ridge. During the stop, officers found a semi-automatic handgun in the center console of his vehicle. While Hooker had a concealed carry weapon permit issued by Virginia, he did not have one issued by Maryland.

A date has not been set in Garrett District Court. If found guilty, Hooker could be fined as much as $2,500 and be sentenced to up to three years in prison.