A Chicago man is accused of buying and selling wildlife in Starke County for use as food in restaurants in Chicago.
Alexander Moy, 47, was arrested Monday at his business, Kankakee Valley Fish Farm in Hamlet, following a two-year investigation by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Lt. Tom Torsell with the law enforcement division of the DNR headquarters in Michigan City said the investigation began in 2011 when allegations were raised that Moy was purchasing white-tailed deer from local residents.
It was later revealed he was obtaining and selling deer along with fish, turtles and raccoons to a various marketplaces in Chicago, he said.
The markets would then sell the animals to restaurants in Chinatown and possibly other sections of the Windy City, Torsell said.
Officials confiscated equipment and various animal species used in the illegal operation from his business.
Torsell said it was not known which restaurants were purchasing the wildlife, and other details, such as whether Moy was part of a major supply ring, were also unclear.
The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected, he said.
"That's going to be a major part of the picture is actually figuring out where all of this stuff went. We don't have all of the pieces of the puzzle," Torsell said.
Another question investigators hope to answer is whether all of the suppliers were local or if Moy was going outside the area to obtain wildlife for reselling.
Over the years, Torsell said there have been other cases in Indiana involving the sale of wild animals, some for their parts and fur.
"I will not say this is uncommon for this to happen," Torsell said.
DNR Conservation Officer Shawn Brown said Moy told him the raccoons and turtles were mostly used for soup and the deer was mixed in with other meat.
"That's what he told me," Brown said.
Brown said Moy was being held on two counts of buying and selling wildlife, which are Class D felonies.
Officials at the Starke County prosecutor's office said he was being held without bond until formal charges are filed and bond is set by a judge.