CHINATOWN — An Indiana business owner was arrested after authorities found him selling illegally obtained raccoon, turtle and deer meat to suppliers and restaurants in Chinatown.
Alexander Moy, 47, was charged with two counts of felony illegal sale of wildlife after an investigation by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources revealed he was illegally obtaining and reselling white tail deer through his business, Kankakee Valley Fish Farm in Hamlet, Ind., authorities said.
“He was just buying [the animals] from different people from around the area. … They were dead, not alive. He would resell them in Chinatown to markets and restaurants that would use them for different dishes,” said Shawn Brown, a spokesman for Indiana Conservation Officers, the DNR's law enforcement arm. “He said mainly that [the raccoon] was just for soup. It’s really good for the soup.”
Enjoying a nice big serving of cooked raccoon might not be as unseemly as it sounds.
A 2009 Kansas City Star story following a raccoon trapper who routinely sold — and sold out — of the meat quoted a Missouri conservationist calling the furry animal "one of the healthiest meats you can eat," and a cooking website republished a recipe for "Raccoon with Sweet Potato Stuffing" that purportedly originated in a 1966 edition of Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cooking.
Here in Chinatown, one market owner told DNAinfo Chicago the venison and raccoon would typically be considered delicacies in China, but that the items would be an unusual find on local menus.
"If it's a raccoon, the restaurants would say it was raccoon. They won’t substitute it into beef dishes or anything like that. They're probably selling to known customers who ask for it and not to first-timers," she said.
Moy could face up to three years in jail and fines upward of $10,000. If convicted, he could face more “wildlife replacement costs” totaling more than $15,000, Brown said.
He could also face federal charges for driving the carcasses across state lines, but the federal government shutdown has stymied the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Brown said.
Investigators said they were tipped off to Moy’s reselling ring two years ago. On Tuesday, authorities searched his rural northwest Indiana tilapia farm and found turtles, deer meat and holding tanks used in the operation, they said.
More charges could be forthcoming against Moy, those who allegedly sold him the animal meat and the Chinatown restaurateurs and markets who bought it.
“It’s basically exploiting a resource,” Brown said.
In August, another Chinatown restaurant was fined for violating the state's ban on serving shark-fin soup.