Northern Minnesota Resort Owners Charged With Violating The Lacey Act | USAO-MN

United States Erica H. MacDonald today announced a federal information charging ROBERT DALE LATOURELL, JR., 50, MELINDA MAY LATOURELL, 45, AND MELISSA ANN LATOURELL, 45, (the defendants) with conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. The defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances in United States District Court at a later date.

As alleged in the information, the defendants, along with others, own and operate a resort on the shores of Moose Lake, near Ely, Minnesota, inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and the Superior National Forest. In addition to providing guided canoe, fishing trips and boat towing services inside the BWCAW, the defendants also operate a motorized portage at Prairie Portage, pursuant to a federal contract administered by the United States Forest Service. The Prairie Portage is situated along the United States-Canada border. Beginning in approximately October 2012 until December 2016, the defendants used their access afforded to them by their contract with the United States Forest Service, to enter the protected waters of the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada on numerous occasions and used seine nets and other methods to unlawfully harvest ciscoes. Ciscoes (Coregonus artedi) are pelagic fish that can be found in the waters along the United States-Canada border, where they spawn in the late fall. Ciscoes are also known as lake herring or tullibee, and are packaged, frozen, and then sold to bait and convenience stores, gas stations, and other vendors throughout northern Minnesota. The defendants unlawfully imported, possessed, transported, and sold ciscoes for thousands of dollars of profit to bait retailers in Minnesota in violation of the Lacey Act.

This case is the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Ontario (Canada) Ministry of Natural Resources, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with assistance received from the 1854 Treaty Authority, the United States Forest Service’s Office of Law Enforcement and Investigations, the International Boundary Commission, and the Duluth Police Department. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily A. Polachek is prosecuting the case.

The charges contained in the information are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendant Information:

ROBERT DALE LATOURELL, JR., 50

Ely, Minn.

Charges:

  • Conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, 1 count

 

MELINDA MAY LATOURELL, 45

Ely, Minn.

Charges:

  • Conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, 1 count

 

MELISSA ANN LATOURELL, 45

Ely, Minn.

Charges:

  • Conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, 1 count

 

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

 

 

 

 

 

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