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Michigan Residents Arrested for Illegal Bear Trade


Four people arrested for the illegal trade of black bear and deer parts following an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit of Michigan’s DNR.

Michigan DNR Chief, Gary Hagler, said that the mission of the department’s Special Investigation Unit “is to use undercover investigations and the latest in technology and forensics to apprehend poachers and others that are illegally commercializing fish and game in our state.”

Recently they arrested four men for participating in illegally trading deer and black bear parts. The investigation was accomplished over a multi-year period and in one of a half-dozen cases in Michigan over the last five years involving the illegal bear trade.

Posing as poachers and using parts from road kill bears, investigators met with the group on multiple occasions to sell parts. Though they were not necessarily operating together, the arrest warrants were handed down in close proximity to each other.

The four accused are:

  • Tuan Hoa Pham, 52, of Kentwood, Michigan. Charged with one count of buying bear parts and one count of buying sport-caught fish.
  • Hoang Lnh-Duy Tran, 45, of Wyoming, Michigan. Charged with two counts of buying black bear parts.
  • Hoa Trung Huynh, 51, of Kentwood, Michigan. Charged with one count of illegally possessing black bear parts and one count of aiding and abetting the purchase of black bear parts.
  • Hieu Van Hoang, 45, of Chippewa County. Charged with five counts related to purchasing bear and deer parts. (NOTE: Hoang was served his arrest warrant in jail where he is facing charges of attempting to murder his wife.


DNR Detective LT. Jason Haines said that there is no way to know how many times the group has purchased bear parts, but judging from their knowledge of the process shows a possible chain of involvement.

Haines also said that evidence shows that Hoang was possibly involved in the Asian black market, but there wasn’t enough to bring federal charges.

Black bear parts are used in a variety of holistic medicines for ailments such as migraines, arthritis and even aphrodisiacs. It appears that, with the exception of Hoang, the group was using the parts for medicines for family and friends and not involved in the black market.

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Michigan Residents Arrested for Illegal Bear Trade