Crab poach­ers hid booty in secret com­partments


A man and woman caught near Half Moon Bay hiding extra Dungeness crab in secret compartments of their speedboat were sentenced to jail time and hefty fines Wednesday afternoon, San Mateo County prosecutors said.

A state Fish and Wildlife Department warden found Minh Tran and Mai Tran coming back to Pillar Point Harbor from a fishing trip on Feb. 15 and asked them if they’d had any luck. They told the warden they caught 20 crabs, the legal limit without a commercial license, prosecutors said.

The warden inspected their boat and in addition to the 20 crabs in an ice chest, he found a canvas bag in the anchor compartment with 16 more crabs. He kept looking and found 56 more crabs hidden behind the 18-foot boat’s batteries and 16 more crabs in hidden compartments.

The crabs were returned to the ocean and Minh and Mai Tran were charged with misdemeanor counts of taking more than three times the legal crab limit, illegally taking the crabs for profit and failing to display the catch to a game warden, prosecutors said.

Both defendants pleaded no contest to the first two charges Wednesday. Minh Tran, who had prior convictions for similar crimes, was sentenced to 10 days in jail and three years’ probation and ordered to pay a fine of $20,580.

Mai Tran had no prior convictions and was sentenced to five days in jail and two years’ probation. The two also had to forfeit their boat, which will likely be destroyed because of the concealed compartments, prosecutors said.

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