Investigation Turns Up Stolen ATVs, Tractors, Narcotics and Exotic AnimalsFri, 11 Jul 2014 05:33:08 CDT
An investigation over the theft of ATVs and farm equipment turned into much more when state and federal officials executed a search warrant Wednesday. Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Investigative Services Division had obtained information that the Triple S Wildlife Ranch and Resort in Calvin, Okla. was attempting to sell stolen ATVs on Craigslist. Chief Jerry Flowers talked with Radio OKlahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays on Thursday about the raid and you can hear their full conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.
Officials executed a search warrant at 5 am Wednesday. The agency was aided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Examiners Board with a uniformed presence by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Chief Flowers says the ranch owner was very cooperative.
Flowers says they found evidence of the stolen ATVs that were advertised on Craigslist and two farm tractors. One of the tractors was stolen from McAlester less than a year ago. The other was a backhoe. Both items were actively being used on the ranch. Flowers says the tractors had their VIN numbers removed or ground off, which was attempt to hide the identity of the equipment.
As the officials searched the property they also found thousands of animals mounted on walls. Flowers says the US Fish and Wildlife Service officials identified several animals were extinct. Flowers says one mount was a Mexican Eagle, which is forbidden in the state of Oklahoma and likely the US.
"We seized all these items," Flowers said. "That part of this investigation is going to be turned over to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and they will continue their investigation to determine the violations and of course those violations will be presented to the United State's Attorney's office out of the Fort Worth, Texas area."
In the search the Veterinary Board Investigators found different narcotics. Flowers says these were controlled substances that were used to sedate or tranquilize animals. The Veterinary Board Investigator determined the owner can not have these items and these items came out of Texas illegally. These items were seized and the Veterinary Board will continue their investigation.
The Triple S Wildlife Ranch and Resort is an exotic hunting ranch, which is not illegal. Flowers says this ranch has been inspected regularly by the Department of Wildlife. While Flowers refused to name the owner of the Ranch, it can be seen by going to the Triple S Ranch website, click here to do so.
"But what makes it illegal are the things he (the ranch owner) was doing there, by the stolen property, by the illegal use of the narcotics on these animals that is under investigation and as well as being in possession of some of these exotic animals that are extinct that you can't be in possession in the state of Oklahoma," Flowers said.
Once the investigation is complete, the state's charges will be presented to the District Attorney in Hughes County. Flower says they are also working with the US Attorney in Fort Worth, Texas, who may want to consolidate the charges. Flowers says that will be determined at a later date.
Through the investigation, Flowers says the farm tractors have been returned to their owners.
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