A Houston chef is being accused by state wildlife officials of participating in an illegal seafood network that funneled tons of unlawfully caught fish to his businesses.
The network is made up of about a dozen unlicensed commercial fishermen who caught fish off the Texas coast and sold them to Houston-area restaurants, state wildlife officials said. The catches included protected fish species, including red snapper, tuna, amberjack, grouper and red drum.
State investigators said they suspect the network began operating in 2013, and could be the largest of its kind in Texas history.
"This is a big deal and exemplifies the critically important work our Texas game wardens do to protect the state's natural resources," said Col. Craig Hunter, the department's law enforcement director.
"That is not something we in law enforcement will tolerate and we are confident these individuals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows."
A break in the investigation came in April 2016, when the U.S. Coast Guard stopped a commercial fishing boat in coastal waters near Freeport. The boat was carrying 1,900 pounds of red snapper. [log in for link]