GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Three people convicted of illegally trafficking bear parts were sentenced to jail and hit with hefty fines for state game violations.
Grand Rapids District Court Judge Michael Distel on Wednesday sentenced the trio to five days in jail and ordered each to pay $2,425 in fines and court costs; including $1,500 in restitution to the state.
State investigators used dozens of bear paws, gall bladders and two frozen carcasses to smoke out the three Kent County residents during a year-long investigation into a local black market for game animals.
Over the course of their investigation, undercover officers delivered 52 bear gall bladders, 22 bear paws, an adult bear and cub, one white-tailed deer, a dozen walleye and 10 pounds of walleye fillets.
State investigators began the probe after receiving information the group was in the market for bear parts. Animals and parts sold during the investigation were bears shot illegally or killed in traffic collisions.
The undercover sales in May and November, 2014, resulted in myriad game law violations.
Hoa Trung Huynh, 52, of Kentwood, pleaded guilty to possession of a bear gall bladder and aiding and abetting the purchase of bear parts;
Hoang Linh-Duy Tran, 46, of Wyoming, pleaded guilty to two counts of buying a bear; and
Tuan Hoa Pham, 53, of Kentwood, pleaded guilty to buying bear gall bladders and buying walleye without a commercial license.
The trio faced up to 90 days in jail. They were given one day credit for time already served.
Posing as poachers, undercover investigators sold more than $2,000 in bear parts, as well as a deer and a dozen walleye during clandestine meetings at a commercial building on Kalamazoo Avenue north of 44th Street in Kentwood.
Michigan bans the trade of bear parts because the commercialization of wildlife parts leads to poaching. About a half-dozen people have been prosecuted in Michigan for buying and selling bear parts since about 2010.