10 august 2020

RA National Security Service Detected Criminal Scheme Developed and Operating for Years on Illegal Extraction of about 127 Tons of Fish from Lake Sevan

RA National Security Service Detected Criminal Scheme Developed and Operating  for Years on Illegal Extraction of about 127 Tons of Fish from Lake Sevan

As a result of effective complex operative-search measures taken by the RA National Security Service and urgent investigation actions taken in parallel with them, in a number of communities of Gegharkunik and Kotayk provinces numerous cases of illegal extraction of fish stocks from Lake Sevan, their storage and their illegal export through smuggling from the territory of the RA by a group of persons in a disguised form, under the name of another fish, were detected.

As a result of the implementation of the operative data received, it was established that during 2019-2020 unidebtified persons by prior agreement, illegally extracting 12,200 kg of "Sevan Sig" from Lake Sevan without appropriate permission, caused damage to the animal world in an especially large amount. Then, the aforementioned fish in especially large amount caught by them by apparent criminal means were sold to S.S., K. M. and V. G. who transported and stored the fish in the refrigeration facilities of a state non-profit organization operating in Kotayk province.

Besides, according to the data received, during 2019-2020 unidentified persons by prior agreement illegally extracting 46,689 kg of "Sig" from Lake Sevan without appropriate permission caused great damage to the animal world. Then, the mentioned persons sold the fish "Sevan Sig" to S. M. and K. M., who transported and stored it in a refrigeration facility in Nor Artamet community of Kotayk province.

In connection with the incident a criminal case has been initiated  in the Investigation Department of the RA NSS; preliminary investigation is being conducted.

As a result of urgent investigation actions, including about two dozen searches carried out in the criminal case with the participation of the employees of the Environmental Protection and Mining Inspection Body of the Republic of Armenia, a total of 127,171 kg of fish "Sevan Sig" stored frozen was found in refrigeration storages in a number of communities located in the administrative territory of Kotayk and Gegharkunik provinces.

Based on a body of sufficient evidence obtained in the criminal case, three persons were involved as accused; a written undertaking not to leave the place was chosen as a measure of restraint.

It should be noted that the factual data of the criminal case testify that persons engaged in illegal fishing extraction had developed a criminal scheme in advance, according to which the residents of the communities located in the administrative territory of the provinces engaged in illegal fishing and sold the illegally extracted fish. It was stored in various consignments in the refrigerated facilities owned or leased by them, periodically sold either on the territory of the Republic of Armenia, or was smuggled out of the country under the name of another fish species.

As a result of operative-search measures taken to find out the channels for the sale of illegally extracted fish, the NSS prevented the illegal export through the Bagratashen customs point, the cargo terminal of the Zvartnots airport of the smoked "Sevan Sig" weighing about 4.2 tons which was listed as canned "Mackerel" in export documents.

Preliminary investigation goes on; active measures are being taken in the direction of finding out the full scope of the persons involved in the criminal scheme, individualizing the acts of each of them, fully restoring the damage caused to the state, as well as preventing continuous environmental offenses by emphasizing once again the state's concern for environmental issues.

The National Security Service will consistently continue to take the necessary measures in the direction of suppressing, preventing and detecting socially dangerous encroachments in relation to certain resources of nature, and it urges to refrain from illegal actions aimed at ensuring the environmental security of the population, receiving illegal income from natural resources, expecting the cohesion of wide sections of the public around this crucial issue.

Note: The suspect or accused of an alleged crime is considered innocent as long as his guilt is not proven in a manner prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure of RA - by the court decision entered into legal force.