This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;
however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.
Patrol, Protect, Preserve
Officers Hughes, Robb and Raker issued several federal fisheries citations while on offshore patrol aboard the Gulf Sentry this past week. Violations included: Catching and filleting multiple red snapper, possession of red snapper in federal waters during closed season, possession of undersized lane snapper undersized black sea bass and undersized hogfish being used for bait, possession of grey triggerfish during closed season and possession of undersized gag grouper.
During the Labor Day weekend Officers Stephens, Louque, Nelson and Pilot Able conducted 11 vessel inspections and checked 32 users in federal waters while doing offshore JEA enforcement during the red snapper season on state waters. Of the vessels inspected, four were found to be in possession of red snapper in federal waters, two vessels were found to be over the bag limit for red snapper and one vessel was in possession of a grey triggerfish. A total of four federal citations were issued.
Through joint enforcement efforts with NOAA, an inspection of a commercial fishing vessel was conducted by Officers Nelson, Stephens and Boutwell. During the inspection, it was confirmed that the vessel captain had multiple active warrants for his arrest. The captain was arrested and transported to Wakulla County Jail.
Officer Hutchinson and Reserve Officer Strong were on patrol at the BlackwaterState Park when they observed an SUV parked in a Day Use area. The SUV did not have a day use permit attached to the vehicle. The officers approached the vehicle and made contact with the vehicle’s owners and confirmed that they had not paid the day use fees. While speaking with a passenger of the vehicle, Officer Hutchinson determined that there was a bag containing cannabis in the vehicle. The cannabis was seized and the passenger was charged with possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis.
Officers Clark and Pineda were on vessel patrol in PensacolaBay when they observed a group of individuals snorkeling along the shoreline. One of the individuals was found in possession of 15 Stone Crabs. Most of the crabs were undersized and they were in whole condition. It is unlawful for a stone crab to be kept in whole condition and the claws are required to be at least 2 3/4 inches long. The season for harvesting Stone Crabs is currently closed. Officer Clark issued the individual notice to appear citations for the violations.
Officers Manning and Barnard conducted off shore patrol in federal and state waters. They cited two individuals for possession of red snapper during the closed season and issued a state citation to another individual for possession of grey triggerfish during the closed season. Additionally, they cited a charter boat captain for not having a federal reef fish permit.
Officer Molnar observed a vessel in violation of an idle speed zone in Crab Island/Marler Bridge, nearly striking the stern of another vessel. The vessel was stopped was to address the violation and to conduct a boating safety inspection. Upon making contact, the operator was showing multiple signs of impairment. At the conclusion of field sobriety tasks, the subject was arrested for BUI and refused to provide a breath sample. Prior to stopping the vessel, multiple citizens called and reported the subject’s erratic driving pattern. The callers reported that the vessel nearly struck multiple vessels and swimmers near a popular beach access. The subject was transported to the Okaloosa County Jail charged with BUI and refusal to sign/accept citations and was also issued six infraction boating citations.
In the course of the week, Officer Pifer made several saltwater resources cases as follows: While on vehicle patrol conducting state fisheries/licenses inspections, he observed individuals on a vacant lot, which is fenced and posted and is a known spot for individuals to trespass and fish from. Officer Pifer observed two individuals fishing from this location. The fisheries inspection revealed 13 egg-bearing blue crabs. One of the individuals took responsibility for harvesting the crabs and was issued a citation. Officer Pifer observed three individuals on the shoreline with fishing gear. As he approached the individuals, he observed one of the individuals pick up a bucket and head west along the shoreline behind a patch of reeds. Officer Pifer determined that the individual was attempting to hide an oversized red drum, which measured 32 ½ inches in total length. The individual was issued a citation.
Officers Pifer, Corbin, and P. Rockwell were on vessel patrol conducting state fisheries/license inspection on a live bait vessel outside the EastPass. The inspection revealed that the vessel operator had an expired saltwater retail license as of June 30, 2015. The operator was issued a citation.
Officers Pifer and Corbin was on vessel patrol when they were dispatched to a complaint of a boat operator was in possession of an oversized red drum at CrabIsland. The officers located the vessel and conducted a fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed that the vessel operator was in possession of an oversized red drum, measuring 36 ½ inches in total length.
OfficerLand was on patrol at Ft.Pickens conducting fisheries inspections. He spoke to a fisherman on the beach that claimed to have a lane snapper in his cooler. Upon inspection, OfficerLand located an undersized red snapper. It is currently illegal to possess red snapper in state or federal waters. The snapper was seized. The fisherman was issued a notice to appear for the violation.
Officers Pineda and Clark received information about people were keeping undersized Spanish mackerel on the 3 Mile Fishing Bridge. Upon further investigation, the officers located the suspects and found them in possession of two undersized Spanish mackerel. The subjects stated that they normally don’t keep them that short. The subject was cited for possession of undersized Spanish mackerel.
The FinCat was on patrol over the Labor Day weekend with OfficersLand and Cushing patrolling both state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Several warnings were issued to recreational fishermen fishing in federal waters for red snapper just beyond the state line. A warning was also issued to an individual fishing from a PWC 12 miles offshore who had a live undersized cobia on a stringer. During another vessel boarding in federal waters, while OfficerLand was completing paperwork, Officer Cushing observed a go fast commercial charter fishing vessel in federal waters heading north toward state waters. Using the radar, Officer Cushing acquired and tracked the vessel’s northern heading and radioed to Officers Manning and Livesay who were waiting in the PensacolaPass. When OfficerLand returned to the FinCat, they tracked the vessel’s continuous transit back to the pass. Officers Manning and Livesay stopped the vessel in the pass. Their inspection revealed six red snapper they claimed they caught in state waters. When the FinCat crew arrived on scene a few minutes later, the subjects denied being in federal waters despite the officers’ observance of them and their vessel’s GPS track. The violation was documented and will be turned over to National Marine Fisheries Service. Overall, the crew issued five federal citations for red snapper in federal waters during the closed season. Pilots Fields and Tolbert also assisted with air support.
Officer Tolbert was conducting a fisheries inspection at Brown’s Fish Camp. He made contact with an individual in a boat returning from a fishing trip. Before inspecting the cooler, the individual stated that he had caught some catfish and bream. The inspection also revealed that he had two redfish, one of which was undersized. A citation was issued.
During the Labor Day weekend, officers in GulfCounty made five federal fisheries cases. Violations were for possession of grey triggerfish during federal closure, possession of undersized gray triggerfish, possession of red snapper in federal waters during federal closure, possession of undersized red snapper
Officer Goodwin was patrolling St. AndrewsState Park and observed a vehicle with no tag displayed driving through the campground. He conducted a traffic stop and found a crumpled up temporary tag laying on the back window dash. The temporary tag came back belonging to another vehicle and the officer could see that the expiration date on the tag had been changed. The operator also had a suspended driver’s license. With the consent of the operator, Officer Goodwin searched the vehicle and found a prescription pill with no prescription. The passenger in the vehicle claimed possession of the pill. Officer Goodwin issued the operator citations for attaching tag not assigned and driving with license suspended. He took the passenger to jail for possession of a controlled substance.
Officer Goodwin received a complaint of subjects taking oversized red drum at the DuPontBridge. He arrived at the bridge and observed a bucket that contained egg-bearing blue crabs. He also saw egg bunions that had been removed from the crabs in and around the bucket. Three subjects near the bucket said that they all had caught the blue crabs. He issued all three subject citations for possession of egg-bearing blue crab. Two of the subjects were also issued citations for no fishing licenses. The officer observed no violation of the initial complaint regarding oversized red drum.
Officers Basford, Brady and Burkhead worked federal waters and stopped an inbound charter boat 11 ½ miles offshore. The charter boat was on a commercial charter and found to have 12 red snapper onboard and no reef fish permit. Federal citations were issued. Several written warnings were issued to other recreational vessels found in federal waters with amberjack and red snapper.
Officers Goodwin, T. Basford, Burkhead and N. Basford were working a night detail at the DuPontBridge. Officer Goodwin had received information the night before of subjects keeping oversized red drum at the DuPontBridge. The officers arrested five subjects for harvesting oversized red drum and one for harvesting egg-bearing blue crabs. Four of the subjects were illegally in the United States and were booked into the Bay County Jail. The other two subjects were each issued a notice to appear.
Officers Mendelson, Conlin and Scrambling were on airboat patrol early Sunday morning on LakeKissimmee for the holiday weekend. On the way back to the boat ramp, they approached an airboat and completed a boating safety inspection. During the inspection, Officer Mendelson noticed signs of impairment and conducted a boating under the influence investigation. The operator was placed under arrest for boating under the influence and transported to the Osceola County Jail.
Captain Rowe and Officer Conlin were on water patrol at LakeKissimmee waiting for inclement weather to clear. While at the Overstreet Landing Boat Ramp they observed three airboats coming into the ramp. Captain Rowe detected signs of impairment from one of the airboat operators, and Officer Conlin conducted a boating under the influence investigation. The operator displayed several signs of impairment and was arrested for boating under the influence. Upon arrival at the Osceola County Jail, the subject subsequently blew a .101 and .105 almost 4 hours after the stop.
Officer Scrambling was on patrol when he noticed a subject fishing in a small pond. Officer Scrambling approached the subject and asked to see a fishing license. The subject admitted to not having a current freshwater license. Upon further investigation the subject informed Scrambling he was in possession of marijuana. The subject pulled five small baggies containing cannabis from his pocket. The individual was issued a notice to appear for possession of cannabis under 20 grams, and a warning for no freshwater fishing license.
While patrolling LakeHatchineha, Officers Scrambling and Conlin were conducting a vessel safety inspection on two individuals that were alligator hunting. Subsequent to their investigation, Officer Scrambling found one of the subjects to be attempting to harvest an alligator without the proper required license. Officer Scrambling issued the subject a misdemeanor for the violation.
While patrolling Prairie Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Officer Scrambling stopped at Lake Jackson and noticed two subjects fishing out on the lake. Officer Scrambling observed the two subjects passing what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette back and forth. When the subjects returned from fishing, Officer Scrambling conducted a fisheries inspection. While conducting his inspection, he discovered one of the subjects to be in possession of cannabis. The individual was issued a notice to appear for possession of cannabis under 20 grams and a warning for no type IV throwing device.
While patrolling on Hickory Tree Road in OsceolaCounty, Officer Scrambling observed a vehicle parked at the BrickLakeCanal, a known spot for drug use. While Scrambling was checking the vehicles tag he noticed two subjects standing by the water’s edge. One of the subjects was fishing with a rod and reel. Officer Scrambling conducted a fisheries inspection. While conducting his inspection, he discovered one of the subjects to be in possession of cannabis. The individual was issued a notice to appear for possession of cannabis under 20 grams and a warning for no freshwater fishing license.
Officer Arendas stopped an Airboat in Gardner Marsh in OsceolaCounty with three subjects on board. One of the subjects had a harpoon with the tip on it attached with a line to a jug. While checking their gator permit, Officer Arendas discovered that their gator permit was for LakeKissimmee. Where they were, they needed a county wide permit. The subject with the harpoon was issued a citation for hunting out of area.
While on patrol of the Indian River in the area of SebastianInlet on Labor Day weekend, Officer Horst observed a vessel violating a slow speed zone. After making contact with the vessel, it was discovered that the registered owner had active warrants out of BrevardCounty for aggravated stalking and harassing phone calls. The male subject was placed under arrest and transported to the Brevard County Jail.
While in the area of the Sebastian Inlet Sandbar on Labor Day weekend, officers observed a disturbance taking place. Officers Horst and Rutherford along with Investigators Trusley and Rutherford investigated the incident. Subsequently, Officer Horst arrested a male subject for disorderly intoxication and transported him to the Indian River County Jail.
During the Labor Day weekend Officer Rutherford received a phone call in reference to a bail of marijuana floating approximately 9 miles northeast of SebastianInlet in the Atlantic Ocean. He located the blue container of cannabis and brought it to Sebastian Inlet State Park Boat Ramp. A Detective from Indian River County Sheriff’s Office arrived and the container filled with cannabis was taken into custody.
While conducting a vessel safety inspection in Melbourne, Officers Hadwin and Lightsey observed an operator that showed signs of impairment. During the inspection the man used both arms to keep balance and dropped multiple items. During Field Sobriety Tasks the man performed poorly and was unable to perform most of the tasks as instructed. The operator was placed under arrest for operating a vessel while normal faculties impaired and issued a citation for refusal to submit to a test of his breath, blood and urine. The man was then turned over to the Brevard County Jail van for transport.
Officers Hadwin and Lightsey responded to a wildlife alert stating multiple individuals were taking Blue Land Crabs from the roadway near Wabasso. The officers located the individuals who were actively attempting to take the crabs from the roadway. After a resource inspection, the officers found the individuals to be in possession of approximately thirty Blue Land Crabs. One subject was issued a citation for taking Blue Land Crabs from a roadway. All other subjects were issued warnings including, taking during a closed season, taking with illegal method and taking from a roadway.
Lieutenant Baer and Officer Edson were on water patrol in the Intracoastal Waterway just south of Ponce Inlet when they observed a vessel operating on plane in a manatee slow speed zone. During the stop, the officers noticed visible signs of impairment from the operator. After field sobriety exercises were conducted, Officer Edson arrested the operator for boating under the influence. The operator provided breath samples of .116 and .124.
Lieutenant Baer and Investigator Crews were on water patrol in the Intracoastal Waterway just south of Ponce Inlet when they observed a blue flats boat raise its motor and shoot a “rooster tail” out behind the vessel. The officers thought the vessel had run aground, causing the motor to raise up. Upon stopping the vessel, the officers learned that the operator intentionally sprayed the prop wash because he was just “goofing around” with his friends. The operator showed visible signs of impairment. After field sobriety exercises were completed, the operator was arrested for boating under the influence. He refused to provide a breath sample.
Officer Edson was on patrol at DeleonSpringsState Park when park patrons advised him of a severely intoxicated man in the park. Edson located the individual and requested that his friends take him home. While escorting them out, the man lunged at Edson, cussed at him and threatened to do physical harm to him. The man was arrested for assault on a law enforcement officer and disorderly intoxication.
Officers Goodreau and Malicoat were on water patrol in the NewSmyrnaBeach area, when they stopped a vessel operator for a violation of a regulated slow speed zone. The operator showed signs of impairment and was subsequently arrested for boating under the influence. The adult male also had an outstanding felony warrant for violating his grand theft probation. He was booked on both charges in the Volusia County Jail.
During the Labor Day weekend, Officers McKee and Jones collectively made 3 arrests within Juniper Creek. The arrests included one felony fleeing and attempt to elude by vessel, and two boating under the influences. One was for .110 blood alcohol content, and the other operator refused a breath sample. All three subjects were operating airboats at a high rate of speed violating the posted slow speed manatee zone and were subsequently cited for those violations in addition to the criminal charges.
The Offshore Patrol Vessel Sea Hawk conducted several long range patrols over the Labor Day Holiday weekend. One of their boarding’s identified a charter/head boat with 10 customers on board, but the captain was unable to produce a state issued charter head boat license. The captain was cited for operating a charter boat without the proper commercial license. Another boarding, also involving a commercial fishing guide, resulted in a case where the vessel captain was in possession of 7 undersized black sea bass. The vessel captain was issued a state citation for possession of the undersized fish.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officer Gill was working an illegal running of deer dogs out of season when shortly after daylight he heard a pack of dogs running game. Officer Gill went on foot in an attempt to observe what the dogs were running. Officer Gill located the dogs and found they were running deer and then made contact with the subjects who were running them. The subjects admitted to running deer and were charged with running deer during the closed season.
Officer McDonald was contacted by a Department of Agriculture (DOA) officer in reference to an individual trespassing on private land picking palmetto berries. Officer McDonald arrived on the scene to assist. A warning was issued to the individual for trespassing on private lands. The subject did not have a valid license and admitted to driving the car to the location. While waiting for the subject to find a ride, Officer McDonald observed numerous alcohol swabs in the subject’s possessions that the DOA officer had removed from the subject. Consent was requested and permission given by the subject to search the vehicle. Officer McDonald located a hypodermic needle in the center console of the car. There was also a black box that contained 6 more needles, a pill that turned out to be a controlled substance and other miscellaneous items such as straws with residue on them in the box. The subject was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.
Officer McDonald observed a vehicle loaded with palmetto berries on Forest Road 238. Officer McDonald conducted a stop on the vehicle and learned that the driver did not have a valid driver’s license or ID card. The owner of the vehicle has a valid driver’s license but was seated in the passenger seat of the vehicle. A notice to appear was issued to the owner of the vehicle for allowing an unauthorized person to drive. The owner was also issued a citation for possession of palmetto berries by a US Forestry officer who responded to the scene.
Officer Johnston was on land patrol in the Osceola Wildlife Management Area when he encountered two subjects engaged in sexual activity inside their vehicle. As Officer Johnston was conducting a welfare check on the occupants, he could smell the distinct odor of cannabis coming from the vehicle. After a brief interview, a bag of marijuana was retrieved from the vehicle. Officer R. McDonald arrived a few minutes later to assist. Both subjects provided the officers with false names and birth dates. After their true identities were determined, both subjects were found to have active warrants for their arrest. The female subject was eight months pregnant and complained of medical problems. She was transported by ambulance to the hospital before being booked into jail. Both subjects were eventually booked into the Columbia County Jail without further incident.
Officer Sapp, Resource Protection Officer Sweat and Investigator Holleman conducted an investigation of an 11-foot alligator allegedly taken from a closed area inside the OrtegaRiver. The investigation revealed that the subject took the alligator from a closed area and falsified his harvest report. The subject was cited appropriately.
Lieutenant Arkin was on land patrol at the Lyons Club Boat Ramp in Jacksonville when he made contact with two subjects parked at the boat ramp sitting in a silver Honda Accord. Prior to making contact, Lieutenant Arkin ran the Florida tag which revealed that the driver had a suspended Florida driver's license. Lieutenant Arkin then ran the passenger to see if she would be able to drive the vehicle from the boat ramp and discovered that she had a warrant/civil pickup order for failure to pay child support. The warrant/civil pick up order was issued on April 17, 2015 with a purge amount of $500. The subject was taken into custody without incident and turned over to the corrections staff at the DuvalCountyPre-TrialDetentionCenter.
Officers Geib and Read were patrolling federal waters off the coast of Jacksonville when they observed a vessel near a popular fishing reef with two people on board actively fishing. As the officers brought their patrol vessel alongside and began their boating safety and fisheries inspection, they noticed a black sea bass on the deck of the boat; one of which was not in whole condition and were told by one of the occupants that they were using the black sea bass for bait. When asked if they had any other fish on the boat the owner said “not much more.” However, prior to opening a cooler for the officers to inspect, the subject paused and stated, “I might have some snapper.” Inside the cooler were 13 red snappers and additional black sea bass. It is prohibited to possess red snapper in federal waters of the Atlantic. Both subjects were issued federal citations for possession of red snapper in federal waters, possession of undersized black sea bass and for black sea bass not in whole condition. The case will be filed with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service for prosecution.
Officer Davenport was dispatched to assist with a boating accident investigation on the Santa FeRiver. While interviewing one of the vessel operators, Officer Davenport observed the subject displaying signs of possible impairment. Officer Davenport conducted field sobriety tasks and established probable cause that the operator was boating under the influence. The operator was then placed under arrest for boating under the influence. After arriving at the Gilchrist County Jail, the vessel operator provided a breath sample which revealed a breath alcohol content of .146.
Officers Johnston and Schulz were on water patrol on the SuwanneeRiver when they observed a vessel with four people fishing. The officers pulled up to the vessel to do a resource and boating safety inspection and found several boating safety violations and two undersized sheephead (saltwater species). A misdemeanor citation was issued to the subject responsible for the undersized fish and a boating safety citation was issued for the lack of safety gear.
Officer Ransom was on land patrol at River Park Boat Ramp when he observed a subject fishing along the bank. While verifying the subject’s freshwater fishing license was valid, Officer Ransom discovered that the subject had two active warrants. The first warrant was for petit theft out of LeonCounty and the second warrant was for child support delinquency out of AlachuaCounty. Officer Ransom placed the subject under arrest on the active warrants and transported the subject to the Madison County Jail.
Officer Ransom was on land patrol when he observed two subjects parked at the Dowling Park Boat Ramp. Officer Ransom made contact with the subjects and immediately smelled the strong odor of cannabis coming from the vehicle. Officer Ransom informed the subjects of his suspicions and both admitted to smoking marijuana. Both subjects were issued with notices to appear for the violation.
Captain Carpenter and Lieutenant Frantz responded to an injured sea turtle call in PlacidaHarbor. Upon arrival we were met by the biologist with the sea turtle as well as a class studying the sea grass. The teacher asked if the Captain would be willing to educate the class on protecting sea grasses and some other things the class would be interested in. Captain Carpenter and Lieutenant Frantz spent a couple minutes with the class than took the turtle into the rehabber.
FWC Officers were called to assist the Sheriff’s Office during a sand bar party. A person with an open warrant was noticed by the Sheriff’s Office. The person was known to resist and flee if confronted. The person was surrounded before he was confronted and arrested without incident.
Officer Birchfield conducted multiple vessel safety and resources. Two of the vessels were found to be in violation of red grouper regulations, both operators were issued Notices to Appear. One for over the bag limit of red grouper and the other for undersized red grouper.
Officers Demeter and Smith were call to a verbal disturbance on LakeJune. When Officers Demeter and Smith found the suspect vessel, they observed signs of impairment on the operator. Officer Demeter conducted field sobriety task where it was determined the operator was impaired. The 19 year old operator was arrested for boating under the influence, and possession of alcohol under 21. The operator provided a breath sample of .111 and .115.
LieutenantBrooks, Investigator Ervin and Officer Demeter were dispatched to a single vessel accident in LakeIstokpoga with reports of 2 children and 3 adults floating in the lake. LieutenantBrooks and Officer Demeter launched a patrol vessel and started the search with Investigator Ervin searching from an airboat. While searching, the officers had to navigate 4’ waves and a blinding downpour in the lake. LieutenantBrooks and Officer Demeter were able to locate the subjects within an hour of starting the search. The subjects were transported to the ramp to be cleared by EMS personal.
Due to a significant increase in manatee related mortality deaths for the first half of 2015 attributed to boat related causes, a coordinated detail with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was conducted. A collaborated effort was put in motion to saturate and enforce the manatee protection speed zones in north LeeCounty over the Labor Day holiday weekend. There were approximately 13 state and federal officers/agents who participated in the manatee zone enforcement detail. The detail resulted in approximately 40 federal manatee citations, 3 misdemeanor citations issued for an undersized snook and two drug related charges, 5 other citations and approximately 18 warnings for various violations. The increased patrols will continue while the seasonal manatee zones are in effect.
Officers Salem and Perry were on water patrol in Pine Island Sound over the Labor Day weekend, when they received a tip that there were individuals keeping undersized snook at a local resort. The officers went to the local resort area and from a concealed location observed two individuals matching the descriptions from the information they had received. The officers identified themselves and conducted a fisheries inspection. Both individuals claimed they had not caught any fish. Upon inspection, the officers recovered an undersized, gutted and scaled snook from one of their coolers. One of the subjects was issued a misdemeanor citation along with a mandatory court appearance for possession of an undersized snook and a warning was also issued.
During Labor Day weekend, a private group hosted a large waterborne party in San CarlosBay which attracted hundreds of boats and thousands of party goers. Around a dozen officers partnered with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, United States Fish and Wildlife, Cape Coral Police Department, United States Coast Guard, Fort Myers Police Department and Sanibel Police Department, along with multiple Fire Rescue crews to conduct a large scale operation to ensure the safety of all boaters in the area throughout the event. Officers responded to multiple calls for assistance including assaults and batteries, domestic disputes and persons needing medical assistance. Officers made several arrests for boating under the influence and other related charges. Thanks to proper planning, coordination with multiple agencies, and effective communications, the operation was very successful resulting in zero serious boating accidents or injuries.
Officer Price did some follow-up investigation into a blue crab violation from a few weeks ago. He went on water patrol with Officer Spoede and began inspecting blue crab traps that he believed were in violation. The officers pulled 28 traps of the suspected crab fisherman and found all 28 traps to be in violation. All 28 traps they pulled had violations for having the escape rings blocked. Twenty-six of the twenty-eight traps did not have the required FWC commercial trap tags attached to them. Four of the traps had buoy violations. Afterwards, Officer Price met up with the commercial fisherman at his business to speak with him about the violations. In the back of his business were stacks of blue crab traps. All of the traps had the escape rings blocked. The fisherman admitted the traps were in violation and said he was impressed that he caught onto the violations. He was cited for 28 counts of misdemeanor escape ring violations, 26 counts of trap tag violations, and 4 written warnings for the buoy violations.
Officers Zampella and Birchfield were on water patrol conducting fisheries inspections off GasparillaPass. They approached a 12 foot john boat 10 miles off-shore to conduct a fisheries and boating safety inspection. During the stop, the operator admitted to catching and keeping 3 red grouper. He said he knew about the recent change in bag limit and had regulations that said he could keep 3. The officers looked at the regulations the man had and it clearly showed the bag limit as 2 written in red letters. After checking his name through dispatch, the officers learned that he had been cited for possession of over the bag limit of red grouper in the past. He was cited for the bag limit violation. A little while later, the Officers approached another vessel and one of the occupants told them he had a snapper on board and showed them the fish. The fish was an 18 inch red grouper. After speaking with the man for a while, he admitted he knew what it was and that it was undersized. He said he didn’t think he would get caught, so he took his chances. He was cited for the violation. Later that afternoon, the Officers responded to assist the sheriff’s department who was out with some people who had a grouper violation. When they arrived on scene, they found 3 people to be in possession of 8 red grouper. Two of the grouper were undersized. They were charged with possession of undersized red grouper and written warnings for the bag limit violation.
Officer Price and Lieutenant Ruggiero were on water patrol when they observed a jet ski on full plane in a slow speed manatee zone. They stopped the vessel to address the violation and to do a boating safety inspection. During the stop, the passenger opened a compartment to get his identification. When he did, Officer Price observed a wooden dugout. When Officer Price asked the passenger what it was, he replied, “its reefer.” The officers picked up the wooden dugout and observed marijuana inside. A criminal history on the man revealed he had two prior convictions for possession of marijuana. One of the convictions was for trafficking marijuana. He was charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
Lieutenant Hinds IV was on land patrol in the area of Stoze Road. While on patrol, he performed a fisheries inspection on a subject that had been cast netting for fish. During the course of his inspection, he found the subject had cast netted a 10’’ red fish. The subject was given a criminal citation for possession of undersized red drum and was given a notice to appear in court next month.
Officers Martinez and Berg were on land patrol in the area of Maximo Boat Ramp. While on patrol, they performed a fisheries inspection on a subject that had been wade fishing in TampaBay. Upon completion of their inspection, they found that the subject had caught and kept a 21” snook. The subject was cited for possession of undersized snook. The man was given a notice to appear in court for the criminal violation.
Officers Smith and Czarnota were working the Labor Day holiday weekend when they stopped a vessel to perform a boating safety inspection. The operator showed signs that he may have been impaired. Officer Smith performed standardized field sobriety tasks, and determined that the operator of the vessel was impaired. Investigator Schefano and Lieutenant Wells assisted by hip towing the vessel back to the boat ramp. The operator was arrested for boating under the influence, and refused to provide a breath sample.
SOUTH REGION A
While on water patrol in JohnULloydState Park in BrowardCounty, Officer Brian Strader stopped a vessel to conduct a safety inspection and a marine fisheries inspection. During the marine fisheries inspection, Officer Strader observed the subject in possession of a speared spiny lobster. It is an illegal method to harvest spiny lobster by spearing. The subject was issued a misdemeanor citation and the lobster was seized as evidence.
Officer Vacin was dispatched to the vicinity of the Commercial Pier in reference to a call for assistance from the Broward Sheriff’s Office. With the information gathered from the deputy, Officer Vacin issued an individual the deputy had detained, the following: criminal notice to appear for harvesting spiny lobster by illegal means (spearing), harvesting oversized parrot fish and harvesting undersized mangrove snapper. The items were seized from the individual and taken as evidence.
While on patrol in BrowardCounty, Officer Christopher Ryan responded to a boating accident in MarkhamPark in the city of Sunrise. A subject was being towed behind a vessel on a tube. The vessel made a U-turn causing the tube to slide into the shore of the narrow canal. The subject was transported to Broward GeneralHospital where it was discovered he sustained an injury to his hip. The operator of the vessel was cited for towing a passenger too close to the shoreline.
Officer Defeo was conducting fishery inspections at 14 Street Boat Ramp when he noticed a vessel with blood on the deck. He asked the operator if he had caught any fish and the operator said that he had caught some dolphin. Officer Defeo inspected the fish and counted 19 dolphin. The operator stated he must have miss counted. Officer Defeo cited the operator for over the bag limit of dolphin.
Officer Mirabal and Wright were working blue land crabs in DaniaBeach. They cited five individuals. Charges ranged from over the bag limit, closed season, and harvesting blue land crabs from the roadway. There were a total of eight misdemeanors and two warnings written.
Officer Toby was on patrol near Port Mayaca in MartinCounty. Officer Toby observed a vessel operating on state waters and conducted a boating safety inspection. While conducting this inspection, the owner/operator of the vessel was shown to have taken multiple game fish by the use of a cast net. The individual was in possession of nineteen bluegill and one black bass. There were no rod/reels or hook/lines on the vessel; only two cast nets. The owner was identified through his own admission and the investigation on scene to have taken all of these game fish with the two cast nets that were on board. The individual was issued a misdemeanor citation for taking freshwater game fish by illegal methods.
Officer Toby was on patrol near Canal Point in Palm BeachCounty. Officer Toby observed two individuals fishing and conducted a fisheries inspection. Upon inspection, the two individuals were shown to be in possession of five undersized black crappie in a joint fishing bucket. Officer Toby issued both subjects a misdemeanor citation for this violation.
Two lost kayakers were lost in the LoxahatcheeRiver during bad afternoon thunderstorms over the holiday weekend. Officers were on the lookout when the FWC helicopter located the two women. Officer Koch and Lieutenant Fillip responded by boat to help escort them to safety. Both females were transported to JonathanDickensonState Park concession area by the local tour boat.
Over the weekend skeletal remains were located by hunter in Corbett WMA. Officers were able to identify the subject as a missing persons out of Riviera from a few months ago. FWC assisted the Sheriff’s Office and crime scene with securing scene and gathering evidence by using the specialized equipment we operate.
St. LUCIE COUNTY
Investigator Luher put together an environmental detail for saw palmetto berry pickers “Pick a Winner” for the state parks in Martin and St. Lucie County over the Labor Day weekend. DEP staff have been noticing a high amount of berry pickers in the parks and needed assistance with apprehending and citing them.
Three cases were made in a three day period; Officer(s) Koch and Norbrothen made cases in JonathanDickensonState Park (Martin) County. While Investigator Luher and Turner made one case at AvalonState Park on HutchinsonIsland (St. Lucie) County. All berries were returned to the land in state parks. Three citations were issued for violation of park rule 62-D, removing plant life. The subject from AvalonState Park was issued a warning for trespass and told not to come back to this state park.
SOUTH REGION B
Officer Trueblood was on land patrol on County Road 905 paralleling DaghnyJohnsonBotanicalState Park. While on patrol, he observed a green F-150 travelling northbound swerving into the southbound lane of traffic. Officer Trueblood conducted a traffic stop and was immediately alerted to the strong odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage. Officer Trueblood asked the driver to perform the seated battery of field sobriety tasks. Upon completion, Officer Trueblood placed the woman under arrest for suspected DUI and Officer McKay transported her to the Sheriff’s Office in Plantation Key. Officer Mattson operated the Intoxilyzer 8000 and obtained two breath samples. The breath samples came back to a BAC of .085 and .089. The woman was booked into the Plantation Key Jail and charged with DUI 2nd offense and four other traffic infractions.
Officer Hein was on state land patrol in the Islamorada area and noticed several large groups of people actively fishing. Officer Hein conducted a resource inspection on the groups and immediately noticed a women became very nervous with his presence. Officer Hein began conducting a resource inspection on one group and noticed the nervous women trying to cover fish with her feet and a plastic grocery bag. Officer Hein turned his attention to her and she kicked a fish into the water, which was subsequently un-recoverable. The woman still had 1 fish under her feet which was recovered. At the conclusion of the resource inspection, the women was cited for possession of undersized schoolmaster snapper, interference with an FWC Officer and for not possessing a valid recreational saltwater shoreline fishing license.
Officer Hein was on state land patrol in the Islamorada area when he noticed an individual carrying fishing poles to his truck and placing them in the bed of the truck. Officer Hein watched as the man walked back near the water and grabbed a large cooler. Officer Hein conducted a resource inspection on the individual and was found to be in possession of undersized lane snapper, undersized yellowtail snapper and undersized mangrove snapper. The individual was cited accordingly.
Officer Hein was on state land patrol when he noticed a vessel trailer with no straps and a running light out. Officer Hein conducted a traffic stop to address the infractions. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the vessel/trailer was just purchased. The subject was in possession of an invalid certificate of title, which was not signed by him nor the seller. It was noted that the tag on the trailer was issued to a different trailer, which was also expired. The operator was cited for buying a vessel/trailer without proper certificate of title, tag and expired registration.
Officer Hein was on state land patrol in the Tavernier area when he noticed several individuals actively fishing. Officer Hein approached the individuals and conducted a resource inspection. Upon inspection of their catch, Officer Hein determined both individuals to be in possession of undersized mangrove snapper. Both individuals were cited accordingly.
Officer Hein was on state land patrol in the Islamorada area when he noticed a group of people fishing on a private dock. Officer Hein pulled over and conducted a resource inspection. While walking up to the group, Officer Hein noticed a schoolmaster snapper on the ground near the individuals flopping around. Officer Hein asked if they had any luck catching fish and they stated that they have not caught anything. Officer Hein requested valid fishing licenses, which nobody could present. Officer Hein noticed all of their belongings scattered everywhere with enormous piles of trash from the group. Officer Hein then noticed 2 nurse sharks that were behind the group laying in the sun, one of which was still alive. Officer Hein again asked the group if they had caught any fish and they still said they had not caught any fish. Officer Hein pointed out the schoolmaster snapper and the 2 nurse sharks and nobody had any recollection of catching the fish. Officer Hein asked if there were any more fish and the group again said no. Officer Hein noticed a cooler amidst their belongings and gained consent to search the cooler only to find more fish. In the cooler, Officer Hein identified a green moray eel, grey triggerfish and a mangrove snapper. Officer Hein asked who caught the fish and nobody knew who caught the fish. At the conclusion of the investigation, one individual was cited for possession of undersized gray triggerfish and for not possessing a valid recreational shoreline saltwater fishing license. The two other individuals that had been fishing were subsequently arrested for possession of undersized nurse shark, over the bag limit of shark, possession of undersized schoolmaster snapper and failure to land marine live alive. They were transported to a detention facility in Islamorada.
Officers Mattson and Trueblood observed a boat about 1.5 miles off shore. They saw the Miami man in the water with a spear gun in state waters. He was cited for spearfishing in the Upper Keys.
Officers Mattson and Trueblood responded to a call of Reckless Operation of a personal water craft (PWC). The PWC was said to be towing a tube too close to the docks at a nearby hotel. The officers didn’t observe the reckless operation. They did observe a Vero Beach man letting minors operate a PWC. The man let a 7 year old girl operate the PWC and also a 12 year old boy. The man was cited by Officer Trueblood for allowing a person under 14 years of age to operate a PWC.
Officers Mattson and Trueblood were on patrol in the sandbar area of WhaleHarbor channel. They observed a vessel leaving the sandbar. The operator was having a hard time operating the vessel, grinding the gears in forward and reverse. Officer Mattson observed the operator and stated that he had watery, glassy, bloodshot eyes as well as an odor of an alcoholic beverage and slurred speech. The boat had alcohol on board and no one was 21 years of age or older. The boat was also missing 2 safety items. The 17 year old performed poorly on field sobriety and was arrested for BUI. He refused the breath sample. He was taken to a local resort. After speaking with a supervisor about juveniles, Officer Mattson turned the young man over to his mother and he was given a notice to appear with a later court date.
Officer Plussa and Investigator Cox received an early-morning call from Federal Marine Interdiction Agents that had intercepted a "go-fast" smuggling boat off the coast of Marathon. Officer Plussa and Investigator Cox responded and took over the investigation for the State of Florida. The vessel had numerous hidden compartments below deck designed to transport narcotics/contraband, an excessive amount of illegally stored gasoline along with boat and motors without identifying serial numbers or markings. Both suspects were booked into the Monroe County Jail under a total of three felonies; five misdemeanors and five boating violations. One of the men was a suspected trap robber well known in the local commercial fishing industry. Another achievement for public safety made possible by the close law enforcement partnership of USCG Station Marathon, CBP Marine Interdiction, and the FWC. Knowingly possessing outboard boat motors with serial number removed, Felony VOP for being on the water fishing, a condition of probation (initially on probation for Interfering with investigation, Felony VOP for failing to reside at the address provided to DOC. Operate vessel with HIN removed, carrying gasoline in unapproved and unvented compartment on a vessel. Also numerous boating safety violations.
Officers Trueblood and Mattson were on water patrol near Alligator Reef SPA. The officers observed a snorkeler in the water carrying a pole spear near multiple boats on a busy Labor Day weekend. The officers made contact with the woman and asked her to board her boat. The Key Largo resident was issued a Federal Citation for fishing within the FKNMS sanctuary preservation area.
Officer McKay was in Dagny Johnson State Park (Key Largo) monitoring traffic on County Road 905, when he stopped a vehicle for driving 68 in a 45 mph zone. The driver immediately admitted that his license was suspended. Besides being suspended it was expired for over a year, a misdemeanor. The subject was issued notices to appear for the criminal traffic violations, an infraction for the speed and warnings for registration and insurance issues. The licensed passenger was allowed to drive the vehicle from the scene.
Officer Reith was on land based water patrol at CocohatcheeRiverPark in Naples, when he observed a center console vessel with three persons onboard and several rods and reels returning to the boat ramp. Officer Reith approached the vessel to conduct a boating safety and resource inspection. During the inspection the vessel operator indicated that he had caught a snook in addition to two mackerel. The operator stated that he didn’t measure the snook and knew that it was a closed season for them. He also said that he tried to revive the snook, but that it had died and he didn’t want it to go to waste. The operator then led Officer Reith to the ice box and he found two legal Spanish mackerel and one 34-inch snook. The operator was in compliance for the boating safety and license inspections, but received citations for the out-of-season and oversized snook.
Officers Kleis and White were on State water patrol in Naples when they stopped a vessel for a boating safety inspection. Once alongside the vessel they immediately detected the overwhelming odor of an alcoholic substance. The operator was very confused and lethargic during the subsequent inspection. Officer White led the subject through Field Sobriety Tasks. The subject had trouble staying awake throughout the tasks and exhibited impairment. The subject was arrested for boating under the influence, refused to provide a breath alcohol test sample and was taken to jail.
Officers Johnson and White were returning to their dock from nighttime state water patrol in Naples when the Officers observed four individuals behind a house for sale. The individuals were smoking and fishing. As the Officers passed the individuals, they detected an odor of smoked cannabis. The Officers quietly drove to a location on the shoreline and traveled by foot to the individuals. When the Officers made contact with the individuals, it was determined that they were trespassing. No cannabis was found, but three undersized snook were discovered in a small cooler and the subjects were using an undersized mangrove snapper for bait. The fish were seized as evidence, the subjects were warned for trespassing and appropriate resource citations were issued.
Officers Despian and Lugg were on vessel patrol near CaxambasPass, MarcoIsland when they stopped a vessel to perform boating safety and fisheries inspections. While performing the fisheries inspection, the Officers found the occupants of the vessel had seven fish over the bag limit for red grouper. The Captain admitted that he was the one who retained the extra seven red grouper and he was cited accordingly.
Numerous Officers responded to a vessel accident involving 2 airboats from the same rental company in the Florida Everglades. The accident occurred when the 2 airboats were heading back and came out of separate trails and collided. There were approximately 50 people on board the 2 airboats with 21 people injured. All passengers including the injured were brought to shore. FWC and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue set up a triage to evaluate all the passengers. The injured passengers and were sent to four different hospitals with a various injuries. FWC cited both Captains for Misdemeanor Careless Operation of a vessel resulting in a boating accident.