The Meatheads of the Week: 12/20/2016








Officer McHenry has been monitoring a baited area in the Perdido River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) for the last couple of weeks. He issued a notice to appear to a subject he found deer hunting over the bait this week.


Officer McHenry and Captain Rondeau worked an area in the Perdido River WMA that has been damaged by people using their vehicles mudding and intentionally damaging the parking areas and roadways. After being in the area a short while, they observed a vehicle enter the area and the driver perform several donuts in one of the main parking areas. They stopped the driver and issued him a notice to appear citation for destruction of state lands. He was also cited for possession of alcohol in a closed area.




Officer Wilcox and Lieutenant Wass de Czege were on vessel patrol checking mullet fishermen on the Aucilla River when they saw a vessel coming towards them with a pile of netting on the front deck. As the vessel turned to head away from them, they waved him over to their vessel. During a resource inspection, it was discovered that there were three nylon nets on board the vessel, which were tied together. The nets were seized and taken to the evidence facility to be measured. Officers Mallow and Richardson also assisted with the measuring of the nets. Two of the nets had a mesh size larger than one-inch bar/two‑inch stretch and were considered entangling nets. Each of the nets were over 500 square feet. The subject was charged with tying two or more nets together, possession/using a net greater than 500 square feet, and use/possession of entangling nets.


Officer Wilcox was on patrol in the Aucilla WMA when she stopped a hunter to conduct a resource inspection. The hunter was in possession of untagged deer meat and was issued a notice to appear.


Officer Pekerol was on patrol in the Middle Aucilla WMA working a case involving placing bait in a WMA. A game camera and tree stand were found and seized at the bait site. A warrant was obtained to search the game camera and enough evidence was found to identify the owner. When Officer Pekerol interviewed the owner, he admitted to placing the bait in the WMA. Charges are pending.


While on land patrol, K-9 Officer Anderson responded to a call of an individual trespassing on plantation property. After arriving and taking a statement from a plantation security officer, Anderson and K-9 Scout conducted a search in the general area where the trespasser had been seen. Within minutes, K-9 Scout located a freshly shot whitetail deer. Working from the information shared by the plantation security officer, Officer Anderson requested the assistance of Officer Bell and Investigator Louque to follow up in the case. After conducting interviews with several individuals, a suspect was identified and later confessed to shooting the whitetail deer on plantation property. Multiple misdemeanor resource charges were filed against the suspect as well as a felony charge of trespass by projectile. A 30.06 rifle was seized as evidence.




Officer Corbin was conducting a dockside state/federal fisheries inspection on a local commercial vessel in the Fort Walton Beach area. The vessel operator had been previously cited for undersized vermillion snapper. The inspection revealed undersized red snapper and undersized vermillion snapper. The vessel operator was issued a federal citation for the undersized fish as well as failing to weigh in all species during the Individual Fishing Quota offload.


Officer Pifer was on routine land patrol conducting saltwater fisheries and license inspections at a local park when he made contact with an individual fishing from the shore. He recognized the individual from a previous encounter and knew the individual was a commercial fisherman out of Destin. While talking to the individual, Officer Pifer observed a redfish on the shore between two rocks near the seawall. When asked, the individual stated that he had caught the fish and it was 26 inches in length. An inspection of the fish revealed the fish measured 28¾ inches in total length. The individual was cited accordingly for oversized redfish.


Officer Pifer was on routine land patrol when he heard several shots coming from an area near a local park that is a popular duck hunting area. A vessel heading to the boat ramp had three individuals and a dog on board. One of the individuals was sitting towards the bow of the vessel and holding a shotgun. The individual holding the shotgun stated that he had killed one Bufflehead when asked by the officer. An inspection of the individual’s firearm and licenses revealed that the individual was hunting with an unplugged shotgun and did not possess a state waterfowl permit. The individual was cited accordingly.




Officer Hutchinson was patrolling the Blackwater River when he saw a vessel traveling at a high rate of speed in a no wake zone. The vessel pulled up to a dock behind a residence and a female subject disembarked carrying a dip net containing nine speckled trout. After making contact with both subjects and asking about the size of the fish, the female subject made the comment that one of them may be close to the minimum size. After further inspection of the fish, three of the fish were undersized. After questioning both subjects, the female subject admitting to catching and keeping the three undersized fish. She was issued a notice to appear for possession of undersized spotted sea trout. She was issued a written warning for a fishing license violation and the male subject was issued a written warning for the violation of the restricted zone.






FWC officers assisted FWC’s Hunting and Game Management staff in putting together another successful Blackwater Family Hunt. Forty-nine quota permits were used and approximately 64 young people participated in the hunt. Donated prizes from the community were presented to several lucky kids, including tree stands, blinds, and even two youth model shotguns. Great weather provided some exciting hunting opportunities for the families participating. Fifteen deer were taken during the hunt and some of the youth were able to take their first deer.









Officer Butler was on water patrol along the Dixie County coastline when he observed a subject harvesting oysters from prohibited waters. The subject was given a citation for this violation.




Officers Johnston, Cline, Yates and Nichols recently completed a lengthy investigation involving multiple defendants and a wide variety of violations. The investigation originated from a complaint of shots being fired at night from a public highway. Response to the area by Officers Johnston, Cline and Yates revealed the suspects’ vehicle was gone on arrival. The officers began to canvas the surrounding area looking for suspicious activity, vehicles, etc. A suspicious vehicle was located and stopped for a traffic violation. The stop and subsequent interviews revealed the juvenile suspects in the vehicle were involved in the shots fired call from earlier in the night. The officers also determined the minors were in unlawful possession of two firearms. Interviews with the defendants in the vehicle led to other violations and several other juvenile defendants involved in resource and other related violations. A total of six defendants were interviewed resulting in the following charges: take/attempt to take deer at night with gun and light; unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor; criminal conspiracy; principal in the first degree; wanton and willful waste of wildlife; discharge of a firearm from a public road; discharge of a firearm from a vehicle within 1,000 feet of another person; improper exhibition of a firearm; no hunting license; no deer permit and no completion of a hunter’s safety course. Two cell phones were seized to retrieve digital evidence that was determined to be on the phones. Charges are forthcoming for at least one defendant in Suwannee County after retrieval of incriminating evidence from the two phones.




Officer Ransom organized a detail to conduct resource inspections at known hunting camps. During the course of the detail, Officers Korade, Davenport, Cline and Ransom inspected approximately 15 hunting camps. While inspecting a particular camp, an illegally taken doe deer was discovered as well as a convicted felon in possession of two firearms and ammunition. The appropriate charges will be filed with the state attorney’s office. Several written warnings were also issued for minor violations. Through numerous contacts made during the inspections, many hunting club members and land owners were able to provide information of the area’s ongoing issues. Overall, the detail was a success.




Officers Burnsed and Gill received information of a hunter who had taken an undersized buck deer while dog hunting. The officers were able to identify the hunter and made contact with him at his residence. The hunter admitted to shooting the deer while hunting and retrieved the antlers from the deer and supplied them to the officers. The hunter did not have a valid hunting license or deer permit. The antlers were well undersized from the requirements placed on the taking of antlered deer. The antlers were seized as evidence and the hunter was cited accordingly.






Three FWC officers conducted a Joint Enforcement Agreement (JEA) offshore water patrol. The officers had been receiving information that several local charter fishermen were taking charters beyond state waters to harvest grouper in federal waters without the required federal permits. Six subjects were observed fishing from a vessel that the officers suspected was being used under charter. The question was asked as to whether the owner/operator was under charter. Simultaneously, the operator and one passenger gave opposite answers. The officers asked to see the federal charter fishing license but were advised by the operator that he did not have one. All pertinent information was recorded and a case file will be forwarded to National Marine Fisheries Service agents for processing.


While conducting JEA offshore patrol, an officer observed a vessel at anchor while displaying a divers-down flag. There was one diver in the water taking fish with a spear gun. A fisheries and license inspection revealed that the harvester was a commercial spear fisherman who possessed the required licenses. When the diver surfaced, he quickly advised the officers that one of his gag grouper was real short. The grouper in question was measured and found to be 19.5 inches. The diver was cited accordingly.


Officers were conducting JEA dockside patrols when they observed a small boat inbound on Crystal River occupied by four persons. Multiple fishing poles were observed on the boat. The required vessel registration numbers were not visible on the port side of the boat. During a subsequent resource inspection, the occupants were asked to open up the coolers and the officers observed an undersized black drum in the cooler. The occupants were asked if there were other fish on the boat. The occupants replied, “No.” A more thorough inspection revealed that an undersized red drum and large zip lock bag full of shark fillets had been hidden inside a five-gallon bucket wrapped in a cast net. A search of a forward storage area revealed a black tip shark hidden in the compartment. The two adults on board accepted responsibility for the fish and received a citation. Each adult was charged for one violation and received multiple resource warnings. The operator received a warning for improper display of his registration numbers.

FWC officers were working the area around Mullet Key when they observed a small Jon boat enter the area and stop alongside Mangrove Island. The subjects in the boat sat for a brief period and, after dark, started gigging in the area. The officers watched as the two men harvested fish by gig. The officer approached and activated their patrol boat blue lights to announce their identity. The operator of the boat made instant eye contact with the officers and then sped away in his boat. The officers followed behind for approximately a quarter of a mile, all the while observing the operator throwing fish overboard. The operator stopped his vessel and the officers conducted a vessel inspection. The operator later stated his reason for fleeing was his probationary status for domestic violence. The officers recovered one red drum that had been harvested by gig. The operator, post Miranda, advised that he had taken four such fish. He was arrested and transported to the Citrus County Jail. The vessel was released to the occupant on owner’s request. He was charged for fleeing/eluding a law enforcement officer, interference with FWC, harvest of red drum in excess of the bag limit, and harvest of red drum with unlawful gear. His bond was set at $2,500 per the county bond schedule.









While on patrol at Sebastian Inlet State Park, a Wildlife Alert call was received by FWC dispatch concerning a man keeping over the bag limit of snook. Thanks to the concerned citizen, a description was given of where the man was and what he was driving. Officer Rutherford arrived on the scene and spoke to the man who advised he had caught one snook. The man reached into his cooler slightly lifting the lid and pulled out one snook. When asked to open his cooler lid all the way, the officer observed one more snook. A citation was issued for over the bag limit of snook. One of the snook was able to be released alive back into the water.






Officer Weber attended Lake County’s Annual “Shop with a Cop” event at the Walmart in Mount Dora. There were deputies from Lake County as well the Florida Highway Patrol. More than 140 under-privileged children were able to interact with law enforcement officers while having some of their Christmas dreams come true.









Officer Cohl was on land patrol and observed an adult male removing yard debris from a large utility trailer and dumping it on the roadway in a remote area in the city of North Port. The subject advised Officer Cohl that he was paid $100 to do a landscape side job, didn’t want to leave the debris sitting in the trailer over the weekend, so he made the choice to dump the debris. The subject was cooperative and re-loaded the debris into the trailer. The subject was cited accordingly.


Officer Cohl was on land patrol and noticed some debris in a rural area. He realized that he had located a 22-foot Action Craft flats boat that was recently reported stolen. The vessel was found in a remote area of North Port cut up into about 100 pieces. The motor, tower, electronics and trailer were not at the scene. The officer was able to put together pieces of the vessel like a puzzle, to match the “be on the lookout” (BOLO) photos. There were no visible identifiers found on any of the pieces. The registered owner of the vessel came to the scene and was able to positively identify the cut up vessel as his own. The case was turned over to North Port police department and Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.




Investigator Ervin responded to a complaint of dog hunters illegally pursuing wildlife on private property along the Kissimmee River Public Use Area. Officers Allen and Crosby assisted Investigator Ervin with tracking the hunters and identifying the owner of the dogs on private property. The owner was stopped prior to leaving the area and a resource inspection was conducted. The hunter was subsequently issued a misdemeanor citation for the hunting violation.


Lieutenant DeLacure, Investigator Holcomb and Officer Zimmerman conducted a detail in Highlands, Hardee and Desoto counties with the purpose of performing inspections on taxidermy businesses. Seven active businesses were located and inspected. Violations included no federal taxidermy permit, improper record documentation, and failure to affix migratory bird tag on waterfowl.




Officers Pettifer and Dearborn were on foot patrol at the Friendship Trail conducting fisheries inspections. Officer Pettifer waited for a subject to show him his fishing license when he revealed drug paraphernalia. The subject then presented him a revoked driver’s license as well as told him that he also had a marijuana “joint” cigarette. The subject was cited accordingly.




Officer Bell teamed up with Lee County Sheriff’s Marine Unit to check transient vessels and vessels anchored in state waters for proper safety requirements and navigational lights. Over the two-night detail, several vessels where checked and appropriated citations were issued reference violations. There were also three arrests made, two for possession of narcotics and one for an out-of-county warrant.




Officers Canamero, Balfour and Beckman were conducting night patrol within the Withlacoochee State Forest when they observed a vehicle operating within a day-use-only area. The officers conducted surveillance and waited for the vehicle’s departure from the area. During a stop of the vehicle, Officer Canamero noticed drug paraphernalia in plain view on the center console. Also, the driver did not possess a driver license. The officers conducted a search of the vehicle and found cocaine under the front passenger seat, along with an open container of alcohol. Both occupants were arrested and charged accordingly. The narcotics and paraphernalia were seized as evidence.




While on foot patrol at the North Skyway Relief Bridge, Officer Bibeau observed two individuals that were actively fishing. As he was approaching the individuals, one of them ran to the water’s edge and threw a mesh catch bag into the water. When asked about what was thrown into the water, the individual initially said that he was just retrieving his fishing line. The subject was instructed to retrieve the catch bag. A fisheries inspection on the mesh bag revealed 11 undersized mangrove snapper and 3 undersized sheepshead. The subject was cited accordingly.


Officers Godfrey and Bibler were on water patrol in the area of Weedon Island when they spotted an individual fishing near the shoreline from a vessel. The subject was nervously looking at the officers as they passed, so they made contact and conducted a marine fisheries inspection. The subject possessed 24 sheepshead, which is nine over the daily bag limit. The subject stated that he thought he was over the daily bag limit but decided not to check the regulations. The subject was cited for over the bag limit of sheepshead.


While on foot patrol at the Fort Desoto Bridge, Officer Bibeau observed two individuals actively fishing. At the conclusion of the subsequent resource check, Officer Bibeau located a 13-inch gag grouper. One of the individuals admitted to keeping the gag grouper and was cited accordingly.


Officers Ludtke and Bibler responded to a report of a subject who had shot an egret at the Sunshine Skyway Rest Area. Witnesses reported that two subjects were fishing when one of them pulled out a BB gun and shot the egret. Prior to the officers’ arrival, FHP officers assisted by detaining one individual, but the subject that shot the bird left on foot. Soon after, FHP located the subject that fled approximately ½ mile away walking down an access road. During the investigation, the officers searched the subject’s vehicle, which revealed two BB guns and a glass marijuana pipe. The subject admitted to shooting the egret and owning the pipe. Officer Ludtke arrested the individual for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and possession of drug paraphernalia.




Officer Adams received information that an individual was in the process of cleaning two doe deer that were killed that morning on private property. He made contact with the subject who admitted shooting both deer that morning. The subject was observed with the deer carcasses and two coolers full of fresh, boned-out meat. Officer Adams issued a misdemeanor citation for taking antlerless deer during closed season. The deer carcass and meat were seized as evidence.




Officers Ridgeway, Brown and Hughes worked a boating safety and marine sanitation device detail over a three-day period. The detail focused on the area from City Island south to Blackburn Bay. During the detail, the officers performed inspections on more than 50 vessels, most of which have permanent residents living aboard. The officers inspected things such as safety gear, registration and marine sanitation devices. The detail resulted in several citations, some criminal, and more than 19 written warnings.






When Officer Collazo arrived at the CREW Wildlife Environmental Areas, the manager called and stated that there was a black bear cub running toward a house from an open field. Officer Collazo drove to the house and observed an under-nourished, very small black bear cub approximately 20 pounds with no mother. The bear cub was attempting to get inside the back porch of the house. The officer followed the bear after it ran from the house and lost sight of it. There were two individuals that located the black bear on the dirt road heading towards Corkscrew Road. Officer Collazo drove to the dirt road and located the small bear that was so weak it could not run very fast. The officer used his catch pole to control the bear and placed him inside the bear trap. Officer Collazo took the small bear cub to Bonita Springs and met with the FWC wildlife biologist who took possession of the bear and trap. The bear cub will be transported to the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo for rehabilitation and future release into the wild.


Officers Stanley and Bell assisted FWC biologists with a red tide case near Sanibel Island where a manatee was in distress. Officer Stanley carefully hip-towed the distressed manatee in a stretcher to a nearby ramp. The manatee was loaded into a rescue vehicle and taken to the Tampa Lowery Park Zoo for recovery.






Officers have been working with local law enforcement partners to enforce laws, rules, and regulations related to the commercial harvest of mullet.


Officer Price performed panther enforcement in the local area panther zones. During the enforcement, he issued a citation to an individual for driving 72 miles per hour in the 45-miles per hour speed zone. He also made an arrest for driving while license suspended. It was the subject’s 7th violation for driving while his license is suspended.






Officers met with the Landings Fishing Club in Fort Myers to discuss hot topics, including the new critical wildlife areas approved for Lee County.




Officers Enos and Cason attended the Treasure Island Christmas Boat Parade, providing security as well as taking advantage of an excellent opportunity to reach out to the public about the importance of boating safety.









Officer Strader conducted a marine fisheries inspection on a vessel in Dania Beach with several individuals on board. With information gathered from the inspection, Officer Strader issued two individuals criminal notices to appear for possession of undersized red grouper, possession of undersized blackfin snapper and possession of dead marine life (Queen Triggerfish).


Officers Banks and Brock were on patrol in western Broward County where they conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that had just left a WMA. The driver was issued citations for having an expired California registration and possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana.




Officers DeWeese and Warensford observed a vehicle in the OK Slough State Forest shining a spotlight. When the officers made contact with the vehicle and its occupants, the officers discovered a 30-30 rifle on the front seat, along with two shotguns and a pistol on the backseat. The three occupants of the vehicle admitted to illegally hunting deer with a spotlight. Charges are being filed for multiple violations including night hunting and state forest violations.


Officer DeWeese observed three males in the OK Slough State Forest target shooting and repeatedly shooting WMA and private property signs. The subjects were in possession of cannabis and one of the individuals was also violating a protection injunction by using a firearm. Charges are being filed for criminal mischief, possession of cannabis, and violation of protective orders.


Officer DeWeese observed a vehicle trespassing on Alico Property and the occupants of the vehicle actively hunting from the vehicle. Two occupants of the vehicle were in possession of a .270 rifle and a .22 LR rifle. Upon further investigation, it was determined that these individuals were felony trespassing and illegally hunting. Officer Alford was able to help assist Officer DeWeese with the investigation and transportation of the suspects to the Hendry County Jail. The occupants also had active warrants confirmed out of Hendry County. Charges being filed include illegal hunting and felony trespass.




Officers Banks and Brock were on patrol in northern Broward County when they responded to the Hillsboro Inlet area in reference to a call for assistance from “Pelican Rescue.” A wildlife rehabber got on board their patrol vessel and was able to successfully rescue an injured brown pelican that was in a precarious location on some jetty rocks.






Lieutenants Fillip, Hayes, Officers Stone, Guerin, Carroll and Morrow conducted an environmental and public safety detail in the JW Corbett WMA. The officers concentrated on off-trail violations and violations of concern to public safety.






Lieutenant Laubenberger commanded the Broward County Police Multi-Agency Honor Guard at South Plantation High School. The event was a Virtual Honor Flight, which honors World War II veterans. These veterans were not able to make the usual flight to Washington D.C. Dinner and a special presentation were provided for the veterans. Colors were presented and the veterans were escorted in a parade through a crowd of appreciative supporters.




Officers Spradling and Spanier provided security/waterborne crowd control for the Boynton Beach Holiday Boat Parade. They provided support along the entire route of the holiday boat parade from the Lantana Bridge in the ICW moving south to the C-15 Canal.









While at a boat ramp in Naples, Investigator White saw an individual nearly sink his vehicle in the water when he pulled in too far to retrieve his vessel. Investigator White helped guide him through retrieving his vessel. The individual then got into his boat and Investigator White observed numerous signs of impairment. The individual loaded his boat and pulled his truck into a parking space. Lieutenant Mahoney and Officers Curbelo, Johnson and Osorio-Borja arrived to assist. The individual was asked to perform field sobriety tasks of which he performed poorly. He was arrested for DUI/BUI. The individual also provided a breath alcohol sample of 0.265.




An FWC officer was on land patrol at Military Canal when he conducted a fisheries inspection on two subjects. The officer asked the subjects if they had caught any fish and one of the subjects replied “Mullet,” showing the officer a cooler with mullet. The FWC officer noticed another cooler and when asked what was inside, they advised that mullet was all they caught. When asked to open the cooler, there was a bag with what appeared to be undersized mangrove snapper. The FWC officer then measured all the fish in their possession and there were 14 undersized mangrove snapper. The subjects were cited accordingly. The evidence seized in this case was photographed and returned to the water.


An FWC officer was on land patrol at Black Point Marina when he conducted a vessel and fisheries inspection on a vessel. The officer asked the captain of the vessel if they had caught any fish and the Captain stated they had caught snapper. The officer asked the Captain to show the cooler containing the snapper. When opened, the officer found filets of fish. The Captain stated that the filet were shark and trigger fish. The officer advised him that it was illegal to bring fish that are not in whole condition and cited him accordingly. The evidence seized in this case was photographed and returned to the water.


Two officers were on night-time water patrol three to four miles east of Biscayne Channel when they pulled up next to an anchored vessel to conduct a fisheries inspection. The three fishermen on board were found to be in possession of eighty-eight yellowtail snapper, four of which were undersized, as well as an undersized kingfish. A total of nine citations were issued to the three subjects for the over-the-limit and undersized violations.




Officers Richards, Foell, Sapp and Mobley were on board the FWC’s offshore patrol vessel “Interceptor” patrolling in the Gulf of Mexico’s federal waters, northwest of Key West. The three-day patrol focused on vessels targeting the costal migratory pelagic migration and shrimp. The officers inspected 12 vessels that were engaged in either charter fishing, commercial king mackerel hook and line or commercial food shrimp. During the patrol, the officers observed a shrimp boat approximately 35 miles northwest of Key West. An inspection revealed a bag full of wrung spiny lobster tails that appeared to be undersized. There was a total of 75 lobster tails, 50 of the 75 were undersized, and the vessel did not have a federal tailing permit. The captain and two mates were charged accordingly.


The officers also observed a chartered fishing vessel actively fishing a wreck in federal Gulf of Mexico waters. An inspection revealed that the charter vessel was in possession of king mackerel, but failed to possess the required Coastal Migratory Pelagic Permit for charter vessels and was cited. The vessel stop was documented and forwarded to NOAA for enforcement.


Investigator Munkelt and Resource Protection Officer Garrison arrested a commercial lobsterman after a month-long investigation into the trap tag violation case. A total of 43 traps were seized and placed in the evidence compound. The captain was booked into the Marathon Jail on a bond of $68,000 with a total of 136 misdemeanor accounts for the trap tag violations, improper buoy display’s on his traps, improper markings in his traps and improper buoy sizes on his traps. This case is still ongoing. A few days later, based on the information received from the seized GPS, officers found additional tag, number and buoy display violations totaling 18 counts. The officers received another arrest warrant and the captain was again arrested by Lieutanant Peters, Officers Richards, Mobley, Garrison and Investigator Munkelt. The captain’s lobster vessel was seized for possible forfeiture. The captain was placed in the Monroe County Jail in Marathon for the second time in one week.






FWC officers stopped a vehicle for speeding while conducting speed enforcement in a panther zone during April of this year. After noticing signs of impairment from the driver, they conducted an investigation and arrested the driver for DUI. The case recently went to trial, where Officers Despian, Johnson and Kleis spent two days testifying in front of a jury. The jury subsequently found the defendant guilty of DUI. This was the defendant’s second DUI charge and he was sentenced accordingly.






Lieutenant Mahoney and Officer Osorio-Borja were invited to attend the Naples Cruise Club’s Annual Christmas Party at their outdoor pavilion on Little Marco Island. The officers met the incoming Commodore allowing them to further the relationship with the club, and answer questions relating to boating safety, speed zones and BUI.




Officer Dube participated in Plantation Key Schools’ Annual Science Fair Night in the Upper Keys. Officer Dube brought a live alligator and crocodile to the event for students and staff to interact with and take photos. Officer Dube was also asked to participate as a judge for some of the science projects for the elementary grades. There were approximately 250 students and parents in attendance.