5 abalone poachers busted on North Coast

January 11, 2009 4:14:59 PM PST
State Fish and Game officials say they have arrested five suspected abalone poachers on the North Coast.

Officials collected 31 of the mollusks in the bust, and identified those arrested as 20-year-old Charles Miller IV; 19-year-old Michael Ray Phipps; 19-year-old Joshua Stockman; 19-year-old Joshua Berto and 20-year-old Corin Devlin.

Three suspects are being held on felony abalone possession and conspiracy to poach abalone for commercial sale, among other charges. Berto and Devlin were released on bail.

Officials say a warden saw Miller diving at Fort Ross on Thursday. The warden later found a sack of abalone hidden on the beach.

Fish and Game set up a night surveillance, and witnessed the suspects returning to get their stash. Officials followed the men, and say the men threw abalone out of their car windows when they realized they were being followed by authorities.


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