AUSTIN – A South Texas man has pled guilty to nine charges of possession of oversized red drum, one charge of no saltwater fishing license, and one charge of exceeding the possession limit for red drum.
The investigation leading to the filing of charges against 30-year-old Luis Castro began with a Facebook post showing a man holding a large red drum with eight other oversize drum on display in the bed of a pickup truck. (The bag limit for redfish is three per day, and they must be between 20 and 28 inches. Only one redfish longer than that can be kept, and only with a properly completed redfish tag attached to it.)
On Nov. 1, game wardens in Cameron County were contacted about the Facebook picture, which had originally been placed on line by Castro’s brother. Accompanying the image was the comment, “just for fun.”
Game wardens ended up receiving multiple complaints regarding the Facebook post. TPWD dispatchers and game wardens were able to review records which eventually resulted in the positive identification of Castro and his place of employment.
On Nov. 6, game wardens interviewed Castro and obtained a signed written statement. Five days later, Willacy County Justice of the Peace George Solice issued an arrest warrant for Castro and game wardens arrested him the same day. Following arraignment, he was released with a court date of Nov. 19.
“Anglers on several social media sites were posting negative comments, and a day after the picture was originally posted, it was removed,” said Game Warden Maj. Alan Teague. “However, the picture had been saved by many anglers and reposted.”
Teague said the picture made it to fishing groups as far away as Florida.
“With tips from anglers and hard work by our game wardens and dispatchers, we were able to track the individual to a city in South Texas,” Teague said.
During sentencing, Justice of the Peace Solice noted how important recreational fishing is to the people in Willacy County which includes Port Mansfield. Before sentencing Castro, the judge pointed out that there are people in the county whose livelihood depends upon the quality and future of recreational fishing.
“It was an obscene number of fish that you caught,” the judge said to the defendant. “We are all living paycheck-to-paycheck but none of us are going hungry. It was completely unnecessary to take that many fish.”
Castro was fined $2,600 and an additional $2,645.91 will be assessed as part of the civil restitution.
Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department