Three Las Vegas men were arrested near Pioche, Sept. 10, on felony charges of poaching two antelope.

Sheriff Kerry Lee said his department became aware of the poaching after the vehicle the men were driving developed engine trouble near the U.S. 93 turnoff to the Bristol Wells/Jackrabbit road.

Abelino Padilla-Guevara, 49, Jorge Fernandez-Campo, 48, and Ery Olazabal-Olazabal, 45, were arrested and charged with unlawful killing of antelope, unlawful aid and abetting killing of antelope, and violation of tag regulations.

Further charges could be issued on a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and obstruction of an officer.

The men were booked into the Lincoln County Detention Center but have posted bail and been released.

Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler Free said he was dispatched to the scene about 10 a.m. to help with a vehicle broken down at mile marker 132.

The men were driving a 2005 white Ford Expedition SUV, but the engine had stopped and they couldn’t get it restarted. Free said, “The van was blocking part of the southbound lane of the highway and it was in danger of being struck by other vehicles.”

Free reported the men told him they had been out hunting near Baker, Nevada.

“When I looked in the back of the vehicle, I saw two dead antelope that had not even been gutted and cleaned yet.”

One man was able to produce his ID and hunting license. The other hunting license shown belonged to a man in Vegas who was not with the group, although the men said the second tag holder had been with them, but had gone back to Las Vegas.

Becoming suspicious, Free contacted Nevada Department of Wildlife game warden John Anderson, who was able to get in touch with the tag holder in Las Vegas. That person verified it was his license, but confirmed he had not been out hunting with the others, indicating that one of the antelope had been poached illegally.

One man was arrested on scene and transported to the detention center, but the other two men were not arrested.

However, the men did not abandon the vehicle and remained there until Free returned with further information he had gathered from Anderson, at which time the other two men were arrested on felony charges also.

“They weren’t detained at the scene,” Free said. “They just stayed there hoping family members might arrive first.”

Lee said since the antelope had not been gutted and cleaned before being tossed into the back of the SUV, the meat was going to spoil very quickly on the expected return trip to Las Vegas. “They didn’t even have an ice chest on hand to pack the animals. It was one of the poorest excuses for hunting I have ever seen.”

Free said “it looked like they were trying to hide what they had in the back of an SUV.”