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4 men plead guilty to selling migratory birds

Sold birds protected under Migratory Bird Treaty Act

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SAN ANTONIO – Four men are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to illegally selling migratory birds.

The Department of Justice said that Jorge Rocha, 50, of Natalia, Juan Guerra, 67, of San Antonio, Francisco Guerrero, 56, of Cuero, and Tomas Perez, 60, of Devine, admitted to knowingly and unlawfully selling the birds to an undercover agent on numerous occasions in 2011 and 2012.

The birds, which include a red-tailed hawk and great horned owls, are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The DOJ said the selling of the birds is a federal offense.

"One of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's highest priorities is to investigate individuals that are involved in the unlawful commercial trafficking of our nation's fish and wildlife," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent in Charge Nicholas Chavez. "The successful outcome of this investigation is also the result of working jointly with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to ensure the protection of our migratory birds. With our law enforcement partnership, information sharing and investigative technology, we can disrupt wildlife trafficking on the web, smuggling through our airports, or our land borders."

All four men remain on bond as they wait for their sentencing scheduled later this year. They each face up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,000.