Darin Lee Waldo, 43, a convicted felon, posted pictures of his illegal poaching exploits on Facebook and it got the attention of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission‘s Internet Crimes Unit. The Polk County man is now facing seven felony charges and six misdemeanor charges for his illegal activities.
An investigation led by the FWC found that Waldo and his friends were poaching game on Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area. Waldo is a convicted felon and cannot legally possess a firearm.
Waldo was arrested Saturday morning and charged with third degree felony charges including four counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and three counts of armed trespass. His second degree charges included the illegal taking of wild turkey and deer during closed season. Each third degree felony charge is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and/or five years in prison. Second degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to a $500 fine and/or 60 days in jail.
Upon investigation, FWC found that Waldo had hid small guns and boats in the wooded WMA area to avoid being noticed.
“Our investigators were able to gain Waldo’s confidence over the Internet,” said Lt. George Wilson, supervisor of the FWC’s Internet Crimes Unit.
The FWC agents were able to exchange photos, chats and communication with Waldo during the undercover investigation. Waldo even invited the undercover agents to participate in two illegal hunts.
The FWC created its Internet Crimes Unit to monitor and collect evidence when wildlife is exploited. In the unit’s first year of operation, investigators initiated 168 investigations, resulting in 177 arrests and 92 warnings.
“FWC investigators use the Internet to aggressively target criminals who are abusing Florida’s natural resources,” Wilson said.