SILVER CITY – Two men have been convicted and fined after Department of Game and Fish Conservation Officers discovered a Gila Monster in their possession.

Conservation Officers received a tip through Operation Game Thief that Wyatt Hoy, 22 had a Gila Monster in his home. The Gila Monster is one of rarest reptiles in the state and is an endangered species in New Mexico, making it illegal to possess.

On Dec. 14, 2013, in cooperation with local parole officers, Officer Adan Jacquez and Corporal James Pengelly did a parole check of Hoy’s residence and a Gila Monster was seized. Information gathered during the visit led the Officers to Roger Carrasco, 23, who admitted to collecting the lizard from the wild and possessing it.

Both men were fined court costs and given deferred sentences. As a condition of parole, Hoy will donate $400 to Crime Stoppers. Carrasco will donate $100 to Crime Stoppers and both will serve 8 hours of community service with Game and Fish.

The confiscated Gila Monster was released back into the wild.

Illegal collection of reptiles is not uncommon in the southern part of New Mexico, and Conservation Officers routinely conduct special operations designed to apprehend violators.

Anyone with information on poaching can call Operation Game Thief toll free at (800) 432-GAME (4263).  Callers can also contact Operation Game Thief online.  Callers remain anonymous and can earn rewards if the information leads to charges being filed.