Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Jordan Holmes responded to a call about illegal clamming in the Millstone River in Rocky Hill in July, which lead to a recent arrest of two men who did not speak English. The men were poaching massive quantities of polluted clams and selling them to a restaurant in Brooklyn, NY.
The Montgomery News first broke the story in November 2017, when the newspaper reported that a dog walker in Rocky Hill found several bags of freshwater clams laying alongside the pathway in the Green Acres park off Skillman Road by the First Aid Squad.
Almost two years later, poachers are still rustling up clams from the Rocky Hill portion of the Millstone River. On Monday, July 15, a Rocky Hill resident observed multiple individuals load bags of clams into a vehicle with New York license plates.
The same vehicle returned Tuesday, July 16, in the evening when CPO Holmes and a partner were waiting for them. The conservation police were conducting surveillance through the night. At 4 am on Wednesday, July 17, two individuals came out of a wooded area with bags of clams. One individual went to the suspect vehicle, drove down the road with its headlights off, and parked near the woods, so the clams could be loaded quickly.
CPO Holmes and his partner were parked along the road and were able to observe the clams and clamming equipment being loaded into the back of the suspect vehicle. After the back of the vehicle was closed, CPO Holmes activated the emergency lights and approached the vehicle.
Eight bags of freshwater clams weighing a total of 341.67 pounds were located in the back of the vehicle. Using a sample of clams, the suspects were found to be in possession of an estimated 22,043 freshwater clams.
CPO Holmes contacted the language line and an interpreter was used to translate for the suspects. CPO Holmes learned that the clams were being taken to a restaurant in Brooklyn, NY, but the suspects failed to provide a name or address of the business.
The suspect vehicle was seized for possible forfeiture and the individuals were issued summonses for possessing wildlife for sale, unlawful possession of shellfish, harvesting clams from condemned waters, and clamming without a commercial clamming license.
If anyone should see poachers in the Millstone River or any of the streams and rivers of Montgomery, call the 24-hour Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hotline at 877.927.6337.
CPO Holmes was hired in 2008 and is currently assigned to the Northern Region of the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife. Due to vacancies, CPO Holmes has been responsible for covering multiple patrol areas for most of his career within the region. He has always shown the initiative to plan patrols and respond to complaints within the vacant areas without being asked.
Shikar-Safari Club International recently awarded CPO Holmes a “Wildlife Officer of the Year” award, for his outgoing personality and willingness to make himself available to the public to cultivate informants. The award cites "his strong-willed determination to our constituents has allowed him to make many high profile cases based on the information provided by the public and trusted informants."
One notable case CPO Holmes was essential to was the prosecution of a large investigation involving the commercialization of deer by a butcher shop. CPO Holmes coordinated the case with the New Jersey State Police, the Warren County Prosecutor's Office, the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office, the New Jersey Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The settlement of the case resulted in a $1,000.00 fine, $4,000.00 in restitution for lab fees, a three-month suspension of his driving privileges, 120 hours of community service, forfeiture of $20,268.40 in cash recovered at the business and the forfeiture of approximately 1,200 vacuum sealed packages of processed venison. The processed venison was valued at over $6,500.00 and was donated to a local food pantry.