BWCA resort owners charged with violating Lacey Act, profiting off illegal fishing

The owners of a resort located inside the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness and the Superior National Forest have been charged with a violation of the Lacey Act.

Robert Dale Latourell Jr., 50, and Melinda May Latourell, 45, have each been charged with conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act is a conservation law that prohibits trade of wildlife, fish and plants.

According to the allegations, the defendants own and operate a resort on the shore of Moose Lake near Ely. The resort is located inside the BWCAW and Superior National Forest. The defendants also operate a motorized portage at Prairie Portage pursuant to a federal contract with the United States Forest Service.

Prairie Portage is located along the U.S.-Canada border. Beginning in Oct. 2012 through Dec. 2016, the defendants used their access, given by the contract with the United States Forest Service, to enter protected waters in the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

While in the protected Canadian waters, the defendants used seine nets and other methods to unlawfully harvest ciscoes. Ciscoes are also known as lake herring or tullibee and are packaged, frozen and then sold as bait.

The defendants allegedly unlawfully imported, possessed, transported and sold the ciscoes for thousands of dollars in profit.