Nye County Sheriffs Office locates 3 suspects
May 13, 2016
By Arnie Palu
Law enforcement has tracked down three men suspected of killing an endangered Devil’s Hole Pupfish. The Nye County Sheriffs Department and National Park Service officers are leading the investigation. The Nye County Sheriffs Department has released the following details.
SUSPECT(S): SCHWINKENDORF, Steven, 29, Pahrump, NV REYES, Edgar, 35, North Las Vegas, NV SARGENT, Trenton, 26, Indian Springs, NV
Potential Charges : Charges are projected to be taken at the federal level.
Charges include Conspiracy to commit a crime, killing of an endangered species, destruction of property,
trespassing, destruction of habitat, ex‐felon possession of firearm.
DETAILS: A collaborative investigation between the National Park Service andNye County Sheriff’s Office Scorpion Task Force has led to the identification of the three suspects involved in the trespassing and property destruction at the Devils Hole section of Death Valley
National Park. Suspects Steven SCHWINKENDORF, of Pahrump, Edgar REYES, of North Las Vegas, and Trenton SARGENT, of Indian Springs have all een interviewed and will be subsequently charged for their actions which occurred on 04/30/16.
NPS officers contacted a detective with the Scorpion Task Force on 05/02/16 after the damage was discovered. Subsequent investigation led to the collection of evidence, including DNA, along with video surveillance. The surveillance footage was viewed, and SGT KLENCZAR of the NCSO was able to investigate and locate the off road vehicle seen in the video. The vehicles’ owner was identified as SCHWINKENDORF, and detectives from both agencies made contact with SCHWINKENDORF for an interview, during which more information was obtained.
REYES was contacted by phone, stated that the subject in the video was indeed him, and directed further questions to his attorney.
SARGENT was also contacted by phone and interviewed. Based on the investigation of the crime scene and the interviews with the suspects, investigators determined the threesome had been drinking and out shooting rabbits when they came to Devil’s Hole. They jumped the fence of the clearly marked protected area, nd in the course of their unlawful visit destroyed an electronic sensor by shooting it with a shotgun, damaged two surveillance cameras, and rammed and shot two gates causing damage. Their unlawful visit ultimately culminated with at least one of the suspects stripping off their clothes and entering the water of Devils Hole. The suspect(s) in the water stomped around the shelf area of the critical ecosystem before swimming around the deeper water, leaving behind a pair of dirty underwear when finished.
In addition to the gates and cameras, a large sign near Devils Hole was shot multiple times with a shotgun. Assessments of the financial loss are still being conducted, but will be felony in nature. The intrusion is believed to have resulted in the death of at least one endangered Devils Hole Pupfish, and fisheries biologists are trying to ascertain the extended damage that may have been done to food sources and egg sites which could lead to more loss of a species who’s numbers are now below the last count of 115 in existence. The killing of an endangered species is a felony crime.
keep the case active.