SANTA FE – An investigation that spanned more than two years and led to the filing of 26 poaching charges has resulted in a decade-long revocation, just the second time this has occurred in New Mexico’s history.
The State Game Commission revoked the hunting, fishing and trapping privileges of Esequiel Mascarenas, 36, of Las Vegas, N.M., for 10 years. He and a partner, Nick Jaramillo, now deceased, were the subject of an investigation that began in January 2012. A search warrant was served later that year and culminated in charges being filed in 2014.
Mascarenas was found guilty of killing deer out of season, exceeding the bag limit of deer, use of artificial light while hunting and three counts of possession of deer out of season. During the execution of the search warrant, conservation officers discovered five deer skulls, two whole freshly killed deer, deer and antelope capes and two elk skulls. They also documented a Remington 700 model rifle with a scope and an Excalibur crossbow with scope in the car.
Game and Fish conservation officers began investigating Mascarenas and Jaramillo in early 2012 after receiving an anonymous tip to the Operation Game Thief hotline. A search warrant was obtained allowing officers to track Mascarenas’ vehicle, which was being used in the poaching activities.
On the night he was caught, Mascarenas and another man, Benjamin Arguello, 38, from Las Vegas, drove approximately 300 miles and shot three deer, killing two. The deer were shot in three separate counties, including one deer that was shot with a crossbow in downtown Cimarron behind the historic St. James Hotel.
Charges were filed in Colfax, Harding, San Miguel and Mora counties.
After the case concluded in the courts, the State Game Commission handed down its decision.
“It was satisfying to catch them,” said Capt. Ty Jackson, one of the conservation officers who worked the case. “This is an example of a true poacher. This was for the sole purpose of personal gratification and bragging rights.”
“This is not representative of the hunting community,” Jackson said. “This is definitely one of the most egregious acts of poaching I’ve ever seen”.
Anyone with information about any of these or any other wildlife crimes is urged to call the department’s toll-free Operation Game Thief hotline, (800) 432-4263. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for rewards if charges are filed. Reports also can be submitted anonymously online at www.wildlife.state.nm.us/ogt.