Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 13, 2016

Contact: Ileene Anderson, (323) 654-5943,

3 Men Charged After Vandalism at Death Valley National Park, Death of Rare Fish

LOS ANGELES— Three men face fines of up to $50,000 and a year in jail in connection with a drunken spree last month at Devil’s Hole in Death Valley National Park that killed a rare, endangered fish.

Devil's Hole
Suspects in an April 30 vandalism incident in Death Valley National Park. This photo is from National Park Service surveillance video.

“We’re looking forward to seeing these three men brought to justice,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, which offered a reward in the case. “Not only did they act stupid but they destroyed some of the last remaining habitat for one of the rarest fish in the United States.”

The Nye County Sheriff’s Office identified the men as Trenton Sargent, 26, of Indian Springs, Nev.; Steven Schwinkendorf, 29, of Pahrump, Nev.; and Edgar Reyes, 35, of North Las Vegas. They were identified through DNA left at the alleged crime scene, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The suspects are accused of driving at least one off-highway vehicle around a security gate at Nevada’s Devil’s Hole in Death Valley National Park on April 30, firing a gun, and skinny-dipping in a pool that is home to about 100 endangered Devil’s Hole pupfish, which are the last of their kind and live nowhere else on Earth. One of the tiny fish, which measure about one-and-a-half inches long, was found dead, and their spawning area was trampled during the vandalism. The men also left behind beer cans, vomit and boxer shorts, according to the National Park Service.

“Places like Death Valley National Park and other public lands are treasures that are owned by the American people. Crimes like these are crimes against all of us who own and love these spectacular places,” Anderson said.

The Park Service initially offered a $5,000 reward for the capture of the three men; the Center offered an additional $10,000.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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