Federal agents raid home of southern Indiana fisherman
The stillness in the air off Zoo Road in English on Monday sounded like a stark contrast to the chaos David Cox described at his nearby home.
ENGLISH, Ind. (WDRB) -- The stillness in the air off Zoo Road in English on Monday sounded like a stark contrast to the chaos David Cox described at his nearby home.
"They was hollering, 'David! David!'" Cox recalled. "And there was as many as you could possibly put on my stairway with assault rifles and down here on the ground pointing them at me."
Last Wednesday, a raid from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife brought roughly 50 agents to his front door. They came after an illegal fish.
"I said, 'You serve all your warrants like this for an illegal fish?'" Cox said.
Cox is a commercial fisherman who owns Midwest Caviar and combs the Ohio River for paddlefish. He says he recently found out an informant or undercover agent was on his boat last season in Troy, Indiana, when a fish came into question.
"It could have been too small, but the thing of it is you are not allowed to open the fish up unless it's in a legal facility," Cox said.
Cox admits he opened the fish and removed its eggs while still on the water, though he says the man undercover encouraged it.
"I said throw the fish back, and time and time again he said, 'Let's just take them out. Let's just take them out,'" Cox recalled. "I hope to God it's on recording."
Cox says the agents seized 600 pounds of caviar worth more than $50,000 as well as $20,000 in cash and checks, fishing records, one of his boats and a truck.
"They took everything we had," he said.
Cox says federal agents also raided his son-in-law's company and his son's property. All three are in the commercial fishing industry, but so far, no one has been arrested.
But Cox believes there's more to the story.
"The reason why they came storming in here is because of all the rumors started about this place when we started with the exotic animals," he said.
He used to own Close Encounters Exotics, but the wildlife preserve closed years ago after a different federal investigation. All that's left now are a few goats and a horse.
"I know you don't know me, and they can believe what they want but ... that's the first time I've ever done that in my fishing career, and that's the God's honest truth," Cox said.
Federal authorities refused to comment on the ongoing investigation.
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