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Walleye poaching charges dropped against 5 defendants

MINNEAPOLIS- A federal judge is dismissing charges against five people accused of poaching walleye and other fish from the Red Lake and Leech Lake reservations and selling them on the black market.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim says Monday that an 1837 treaty with the Chippewa Indians protects the defendants' rights to fish on tribal lands.

Tunheim says Congress hasn't abolished fishing rights outlined in the treaty - so prosecuting these defendants violates treaty rights.

The defendants are members of the Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake bands.

They were among 10 people charged in federal court in April with transporting and selling fish illegally. Of the remaining defendants, one has pleaded guilty and cases against four are pending.

Dozens of others were charged in state and tribal courts.


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