By Linda Crisp
In recent news, it has been reported that six U.S. Forest Service (USFS) employees from Western North Carolina were awarded “Law Enforcement and Investigations Awards” by the USFS for their roles in “Operation Something Bruin”, a four-year, multi-agency investigation targeting “bear poachers” in WNC and surrounding states, resulting in arrests in February 2013.
In late 2010 through 2011, under time constraints, and possibly due to not finding any illegal activity, [agents] Arnold and Webb resorted to various schemes to try to entice the hunters to break laws.
During one hunter’s trial in Haywood County, agents admitted to buying illegal bait for bears in Tennessee, and placing it in a hunter’s yard in Graham County. Hunters witnessed the officers killing at least four of the ten bears that were taken. These agents, against the advice of hunters, removed the bears’ gallbladders and called hunters from surrounding counties to try to get them to participate in the illegal selling of bear parts. The hunters refused to take part in this illegal activity. These are only two of the many tactics used in attempts to entrap hunters of Western North Carolina.
According to one attorney, Arnold admitted in court to violating 39 wildlife laws.
Additionally, state and federal agents employed “Gestapo-like” techniques in search and seizure of so-called “evidence”, including improper service of search-warrants.
Men in bullet-proof vests, with M-16 rifles came into homes where women were alone.
h/t Matt Bracken