Colorado man pleads guilty to paddlefish trafficking in Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY - A Colorado man pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally trafficking paddlefish caviar in Warsaw, Missouri.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tammy Dickinson said 49-year-old Felix Baravik of Aurora, Colorado admitted he traveled with friends from Colorado to Missouri in April of 2012 and met with covert agents posing as fishermen. Baravik's friends and the agents exchanged numbers, and Baravik told the agents to call if they caught a paddlefish.
Public Affairs Officer Don Ledford said the group arranged to buy a female paddlefish from the agents the day after meeting them.
Ledford said Baravik and a friend went fishing with the agents and exceeded the daily intake limit for Missouri. They kept the paddlefish they caught and removed the eggs and processed them to make caviar. Ledford said Baravik and his friends then took the paddlefish and eggs from Missouri back to Colorado.
Baravik received a three year court probation sentence and a $5,000 fine. Baravik cannot fish or go with anyone who is fishing during his probation. He also is required to do 500 hours of community service.
Baravik's case was part of an operation called "Operation Roadhouse" during March and April of 2011. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation led the investigation centered in an area known as the Roadhouse in Warsaw, Missouri. As part of the operation, state and federal officers operated a paddlefish business and sold paddlefish to people who were interested in buying them.
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