Suspected Abalone Poaching Kingpin Arrested in Sacramento

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Several years of investigating ended Thursday with the early morning arrest of Dung Van Nguyen.

Officers say Nguyen heads a large abalone poaching ring that stretches from Sacramento to Oakland.

“He’s one of 14 people. He is a main suspect,” said Mark Michilizzi, a Department Fish & Wildlife warden.

Dark green Fish & Game vehicles lined Basset Way in Sacramento, where the Nguyen was taken into custody.

We went back to Nguyen’s home a few hours later. An acquaintance of his sleeping on the living room floor said he hasn’t seen abalone in the house.

Officers followed through with the meticulous investigation because abalone poaching is a huge problem in California.

“As many as 250,000 abalone get poached off the California coast each year,” Michilizzi said.

A diver is only supposed to take 24 abalone a year. An abalone can go for about $800 a piece on the black market, Fish & Wildlife officials say.

“For us, to have 14 warrants signed from Oakland to Sacramento, this is a large operation. It goes to show important this resource is,” Michilizzi said.

In all, a dozen arrested today, with the alleged kingpin in custody.

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