Facebook Photo Results in Poaching Charges

If you are going to break the law by poaching wildlife, don’t brag about it online. You don’t know who’s looking.

In the case of Darin Lee Waldo, a convicted felon who cannot legally possess a firearm, those most interested in his hunting exploits were the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

A growing number of law enforcement units gather intelligence from the Internet. The Conservation Commission has its own Internet Crimes unit, with investigators scanning for game poaching and hunting violations.

They found Waldo’s Facebook posts, which led the agency to believe that Waldo and his friends were engaged in poaching in Florida’s Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area during off-season.

Much like law enforcement’s tactics to gain the trust of child sex offenders, this Internet Crimes unit made contact with Waldo and gained his trust. He exchanged photos of game he had killed, perhaps illegally. He admitted his activities in a chat room and allegedly invited undercover agents to participate in illegal hunts.

Waldo was arrested and now faces seven felony charges: four counts of illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and three counts of trespass. He allegedly poached animals on private ranches involved in conservation programs. He also faces six misdemeanor criminal charges

Source: LA Times, “Facebook bragging about poaching leads to charges against man,” by Kelly Burgess, May 27, 2011.

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