Law Enforcement
Southwest Region

Tule Elk at San Luis NWR

Office of Law Enforcement

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The Southwest Region covers the States of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma and shares over 1,650 miles of border with Mexico. The Region contains diverse fish and wildlife resources, including over 250 species of fish, wildlife, and plants that are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. It encompasses habitats that range from lowland deserts and seemingly endless plains to gulf coast beaches and towering mountain peaks.

Wildlife law enforcement efforts are coordinated with State game and fish agencies and with Federal counterparts; new partnerships include increased liaison with the U.S. Marshals Service in the Southwest. Special agents and wildlife inspectors in the Region provide law enforcement support to more than 40 National Wildlife Refuges, 27 National Parks, 20 National Forests, over 30 million square miles of other Federal and State land areas, over 100 distinct Native American tribal areas, and 24 Customs ports of entry.

Challenges in the Region range from protecting endangered Mexican wolves to foiling interstate trafficking of wildlife ranging from freshwater fish to big game species. Enforcement work includes promoting compliance under Federal wildlife laws by oil and gas producers and other industries whose activities affect protected birds; inspecting wildlife imports and exports at two designated ports (Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston) and four border crossings (Nogales, Arizona, and Brownsville, El Paso, and Laredo in Texas); and partnering with Service biologists to address issues affecting protected species and their habitat.


Hummingbirds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.Credit: Bill Buchanan, USFWS.

Texas Man Sentenced for Trafficking in Hummingbird Charms

April 2015
Texas – A 53-year-old Dallas, Texas man was sentenced to four years of supervised probation and ordered to pay $5,000 in fines and restitution for trafficking in dried humming bird carcasses referred to as “chuparosas” on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. The individual admitted to selling hummingbirds without a valid permit or authorization, which is a felony under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble.

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Additional news coverage
Learn more about Hummingbirds


black rhino
Photo of a ​Black Rhino​ in ​Mkhuze, South Africa. Photo credit: Karl Stromayer/USFWS.​

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Wildlife Document

March 2015
A resident of Austin, Texas pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act’s false labeling provision by knowingly selling horns from a black rhinoceros to non-Texas residents and falsifying the bill of sale to conceal the fact that the actual purchasers were not residents of Texas. This case was part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

Read the Department of Justice’s news release

Learn more about Operation Crash


Service, Partners Fight Wildlife Crime

March 03, 2015
Poaching and wildlife trafficking threaten some of the world’s best known and most beloved species, including elephants and rhinos, as well as lesser-known species like the pangolin. On this World Wildlife Day, the Service joins partners around the world to show that we are serious about wildlife crime. We’re strengthening law enforcement efforts, coordinating domestically and internationally to combat wildlife trafficking, and in 2014 alone, the Service invested more than $15 million in wildlife security support worldwide. We hope you will join us, this World Wildlife Day and every day, to end the illegal wildlife trade.

Director's Blog: Using Cutting Edge Science to Fight Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade

Learn More on Wildlife Trafficking


El paso Trade Fiar staff
Representing the Service's Office of Law Enforcement at this event were Evidence Custodian Matt Romero, Permit Specialist Maggie Martinez and Supervisory Wildlife Inspector Loida Mata.​ Credit: USFWS.

El Paso Trade Fair

February 2015
On Thursday February 5, 2015, The El Paso Supervisory Wildlife Inspector, Region 2 Import/Export Permit Specialist and the El Paso Evidence Custodian attended the first ever trade fair in El Paso, Texas. The trade fair was organized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and held for all import/export brokers that do business in El Paso, Texas. It was an all-day event that provided brokers with necessary information that is needed to conduct business in El Paso. Departments that attended the trade fair included: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), U. S. Customs and Border Protection, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, U. S. Department of Agriculture, U. S. Department of Transportation, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and U. S. Department of Homeland Security. As one of the cross-cutting objectives for the OLE, this event provided outreach and education to increase compliance with wildlife laws.

The mission of the OLE is to protect wildlife resources. Through the effective enforcement of Federal Laws, we contribute to FWS efforts to recover endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, safeguard fisheries, combat invasive, and promote international wildlife conservation.


flying hawk
A red-tailed hawk soars over U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands. Photo credit: USFWS.

Seller of Feathers Sentenced

This week in Phoenix, Arizona, a tribal member of the Navajo Nation from Tuba City, Arizona, became the last defendant to be sentenced following a nationwide investigation – Operation Silent Wilderness – by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife into the illegal killing and commercialization of protected eagles and other migratory birds. 

News Release
Summary of Operation Silent Wilderness
Case Photos



Presidential Taskforce Releases Implementation Plan for Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

February 2015
Recognizing that wildlife trafficking is an urgent conservation and national security threat, the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Justice and State have released the implementation plan for the U.S. National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking. Says U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell: "We have reached a pivotal moment where we must take effective action or risk seeing iconic species go extinct in the wild. With this national strategy, we are taking the steps needed to both shut down illegal trade, including raising awareness and support through our trade agreements, while helping source countries crack down on poaching." 

News Release »»
Director's Blog: A Coordinated Federal Approach to Combating Wildlife Trafficking »»
Learn More »»
Implementation Plan »»


whooping crane
Whooping Crane. Photo credit: USFWS.

Rewards Offered for Information About Death of Endangered Whooping Crane

February 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are seeking information about a state and federally protected whooping crane found dead on January 4 along the Texas coast near Sand Lake in Aransas Bay. The Service is offering a reward in the amount of $2,500 and TPWD is contributing $1,000 for information about the death of the crane. Several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are also offering up reward money for this effort.

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Last updated: April 10, 2015