By edhat staff
Six people have been arrested following a bust by California Fish and Wildlife of suspected poaching in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
The year-long investigation by state game wardens is also focused on finding a seventh suspect who is tied to this poaching ring that involves a Ventura County market and e-bikes.
Dubbed “the E-Bike Crew” by authorities, these men are suspected of illegally killing local wildlife while riding electric bikes.
On Monday, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced that 21 charges had been filed against the suspects, including allegations of forgery, conspiracy, receiving possession, animal cruelty and possession of a bear. not labeled.
The following suspects are charged with working together to fraudulently obtain hunting licenses, tags and other documents in California: Martin M. Bravo (30 of Oxnard), Martin Bravo Sr. (59 of Oxnard ), Jaime Mendoza Avila (41 from Porterville), Walfre Lopez y Lopez (38 from Oxnard), Gilberto Lopez Hernandez (34 from Thousand Oaks), and Cristian Lopez Perez (31 from Los Angeles).
Juventino Reyes Guerrero (44 from Piru) is accused of distributing the permits while working at the Fish and Wildlife Licensing Office inside Lizette Market in Piru.
Heads of mounted animals believed to have been illegally killed are seen in a shed belonging to Martin M. Bravo, photographed during a search warrant on Dec. 8, 2021 (Ventura County Attorney’s Office/California Fish and Wildlife)
Court documents allege from June 2019 to October 2021 that suspects forged and reprinted hunting tags circumventing California hunting regulations and killing more deer, pigs and bears than the law allows. . The prosecution alleges the suspects were motivated by personal gain, profit and entertainment.
Reyes Guerrero is accused of reprinting chase tickets, citing poor print quality, while providing the “E-Bike Crew” with additional tags.
The investigation began when a ranger crossed paths with suspects riding e-bikes with firearms in the Los Padres National Forest. Mendoza Avila allegedly told the manager that they were part of “Oxnard’s E-Bike Crew”. A warning was given for driving with a live bullet in the chamber of the weapon.
The same keeper has received numerous complaints and advice from other hunters about the “E-Bike Crew” being seen killing more animals than necessary, with some taking place in wildlife sanctuaries. The suspects are said to have traveled through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, wearing camouflage and communicating by radio to hunt the animals, and using e-bikes and trailers to transport their kill.
Throughout the investigation, rangers were able to locate the men on camera while illegally hunting in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, which provides a nesting area for the endangered California condor.
A total of 120 tags were never reported and 64 were illegally reprinted as part of this poaching ring.
Gilberto Lopez Hernandez poses with a bear killed Sept. 25, 2021. (Ventura County District Attorney’s Office/California Fish and Wildlife)
Search warrants were issued and throughout Ventura County last December, where dozens of antlers and animal skulls were recovered, including a mountain lion skull. It is illegal to hunt cougars in California.
Also, a bear was being stuffed for display and the freezers were stocked with various animal meats.
According to court reports, the majority of suspects admitted to using more hunting tags and killing more animals than allowed. Owners of Lizette Market denied knowledge of the poaching scheme.
Martin M. Bravo, Martin Bravo Sr., Jaime Mendoza Avila, Gilberto Lopez Hernandez, Cristian Lopez Perez and Juventino Reyes Guerrero were arraigned Monday and remain in custody on bond set at $200,000. Walfre Lopez y Lopez has not yet been located and has an active arrest warrant.
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