Officer T. Basford was on land patrol near the Bailey Bridge in North Bay when he saw three subjects in an aluminum boat who appeared to be intoxicated and smoking marijuana. Officers N. Basford and Wicker arrived and approached the vessel. All three subjects on the vessel appeared to be impaired. A BUI investigation was conducted on the operator and, after he completed the standardized field sobriety tasks, the operator was taken into custody. A plastic bag containing less than 20 grams of marijuana and a glass pipe were seized. The operator claimed ownership of the seized evidence. At the jail, the operator provided two breath samples reading .219 and .223. He was booked into the Bay County Jail for operating a vessel with a breath alcohol level of .08 or higher and charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Officer Baber was conducting boating safety inspections at a boat ramp along the Apalachicola River when he noticed a vehicle towing a vessel with an expired registration. Before the boater launched the vessel, he walked over to speak to him about the registration and noticed the boat owner was very nervous and he could smell a strong odor of burnt cannabis coming from the vehicle. A consent search of the vehicle produced a plastic bag of cannabis and methamphetamine. The suspect was booked into jail for possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis and possession of methamphetamine.
When Officer Hayes approached a vehicle leaving a boat ramp along the Chipola River, the two occupants appeared nervous. A small plastic bag containing a crystal-like substance was in plain view. A deputy with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department responded to assist. The substance tested positive for methamphetamine and the suspect was booked into the Calhoun County Jail.
Officers Cushing and Pettey were on federal water patrol in the Gulf of Mexico and issued one federal citation for possession of greater amberjack during closed season and two state citations for undersized red snapper.
While on park patrol within the Big Lagoon State Park, Officer Long saw a subject throwing a cast net near an area that is frequently used as an illegal access point into the park. After approaching the subject and accompanying him back to his vehicle to retrieve his fishing license and identification, a strong odor of cannabis could be smelled coming from inside the vehicle. The cannabis was seized and misdemeanor citations were issued for possession of cannabis under 20 grams. Warnings were issued for state park violations.
Officers Cushing and Pettey, with the assistance of Officer Tolbert, were patrolling state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and conducted a marine resource inspection of a vessel in federal waters. The persons on board stated that they knew they were in federal waters and were not allowed to have red snapper but undersized red snapper was found in their cooler. One of the individuals admitted to catching and keeping the red snapper. The appropriate action was taken for the violation.
Officers Cushing and Pettey saw a vessel in federal waters with two persons on board actively fishing. When asked if they had any fish on board, the owner of the vessel stated that they had one amberjack. During the resource inspection, an undersized greater amberjack was found during closed season. The appropriate action was taken for the violation.
Officers Fletcher and Nelson were conducting vessel patrol before daylight in Apalachicola Bay and saw several commercial oyster vessels with a large harvest of oysters on the deck/cull board of the vessels. The appropriate action was taken for the harvest of oysters before daylight. The illegally harvested oysters were returned to the water.
Officers M. Webb and Lipford conducted JEA patrol in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. During their patrol, they conducted numerous resource inspections targeting the enforcement federal reef fish regulations. Four separate inspections revealed violations regarding the possession of red snapper in federal waters during a closure, which resulted in the issuance of four citations.
Officers H. Webb and M. Webb conducted JEA patrol in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. While patrolling, they saw a recreational vessel actively fishing. As the officers approached, the passenger in front quickly started dumping red snapper over their starboard side of the vessel. The officers instructed the fishermen to stop dumping fish. There were four red snapper floating in the water, one of which was taken by a dolphin. The officers retrieved the other three with a net. When boarding, Officer H. Webb asked the captain if they had any more fish on board. The captain of the vessel said no, but upon inspection, six additional red snapper, two gray triggerfish and one greater amberjack were located in the fish box. Six of the nine red snapper were undersized and one of the two triggerfish was undersized. The appropriate action was taken for the violations.
Officers Little and Baber responded to a complaint in which a landowner had game camera photos of a suspect trespassing on his property. The officers backtracked the suspect’s tracks to a residence on an adjacent property. They located and interviewed the suspect, who was subsequently charged with trespass.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officers Ramos and McHenry were on vessel patrol in the Santa Rosa Sound and conducted a safety and resource inspection on a boat returning from offshore fishing. After a check of all required safety equipment, the operator stated they didn’t have any luck and that they had no fish on board. Officer Ramos received consent to look in the coolers and live wells. He didn’t locate any fish but discovered clues leading him to believe the operator was lying. He asked a passenger to move to the front of the boat and found a gray triggerfish hidden under her seat. The harvest of triggerfish is prohibited in Gulf waters for the remainder of 2017. The operator admitted he caught the fish. When asked for a fishing license, the man stated he had one but forgot to bring it with him. FWC dispatch confirmed that the man’s fishing license had been expired for a year. The man was issued a citation for the expired fishing license and a criminal citation with required court appearance for the harvest of triggerfish during the closed season.
Officer Lewis was patrolling in the Blackwater River State Forest when he saw two men and a woman getting ready to leave Krul Lake. When asked if they paid the Krul Lake day-use area fee, they said they had not. While speaking to the group, Officer Lewis smelled the odor of cannabis and asked the driver about it. The man retrieved a mason jar containing cannabis from the vehicle’s center console and handed it to the officer. The tag also was not assigned to the vehicle. The man admitted to possession of the cannabis and attaching the improper tag. The subject was charged with possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia, and attaching tag not assigned. The subjects were issued warnings for not paying the day-use area fee.
Officer Gore was conducting boating safety inspections on Holmes Creek at Culpepper Landing when he encountered a vessel with two subjects cheering loudly and waving their hands in the air as they approached the ramp. The operator had difficulty showing his safety equipment and was very unsteady. Officer Gore performed standardized field sobriety tasks and determined that the subject was impaired. He was arrested and transported to the Washington County Jail where he refused the Intoxilyzer and was booked into jail for BUI.
While on foot patrol at Wilderness Landing, Officer J. Rockwell received a complaint about two missing teenagers. The complainant stated that they were 13 and 16 years old and had been missing for over an hour after heading down river. Officer Rockwell notified dispatch and began to search a few known forest roads that lead to the river. In a joint effort with Officers Arnette and Jenks of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the officers located the missing teens two miles south of Wilderness Landing.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Lieutenant Ferguson and Officer Troiano responded to a complaint of dogs running a young deer in a rural area neighborhood south of High Springs. The complainants met the officers and showed them where the dog had caught the spotted fawn. The owner’s information was on the dog’s collar. After receiving sworn written statements from the complainant, the officers made several attempts to contact the owner. The dog was eventually turned over to Alachua County Animal Control. Officer Troiano will be contacting the state attorney’s office for possible violations.
Officer Johnston was on land patrol in a rural area of Columbia County when he saw a vehicle moving slowly along an adjacent public road. Officer Johnston noticed a spotlight being displayed from the passenger side of the vehicle illuminating an agricultural field. While Officer Johnston maintained surveillance, Officer Yates and Investigator Bembry arrived to assist. A traffic stop was conducted and the two occupants of the vehicle were discovered to be in possession of a .22 caliber scoped rifle loaded with hollow point ammunition, including one in the chamber. The driver was found to be driving on a revoked driver’s license as a habitual traffic violator. The passenger was determined to be a convicted felon and was in possession of an open alcoholic beverage. The driver was arrested and transported to the Columbia County Jail where he was booked for felony driving while license suspended or revoked and attempting to take deer at night with gun and light. The passenger received a citation for the open container and was released on the scene. A sworn complaint will be filed on the passenger for attempt to take deer at night with a gun and light. Pending further investigative efforts, an additional charge may be filed.
Officer Johnston was on foot patrol at the Montgomery Lake Fish Management Area when he saw a subject fishing with a rod and reel. The subject did not have a valid freshwater fishing license and had an active warrant for his arrest. The warrant was for failure to appear for a violation of parole hearing out of Columbia County, stemming from a previous arrest made by Officer Johnston for driving while license suspended or revoked on water management land. The no bond warrant was confirmed and the subject was transported by Officer Johnston to the Columbia County Jail where he was booked without incident. The subject also received a non-criminal citation for fishing without a freshwater fishing license.
Officer McDonald was traveling a well-traveled highway in Lake City when he saw a vehicle backing up to a county fence. A gate was lying on the ground behind the vehicle and a strap was attached to the gate and truck. The subject at first denied tampering with the fence, but later admitted to pulling it down so he could go fishing. The hinges to the gate were in the man’s vehicle, but no fishing pole was found. The back of the man’s vehicle contained other metals suspected to be sold as scrap. The suspect was issued a citation for criminal mischief and damage/injuring a fence. The suspect repaired the gate before leaving.
Officers Johnston, Yates and Investigator Bembry responded to the Fort White area in Columbia County to assist with a multi-agency manhunt for an inmate who escaped from a correctional facility in Hamilton County earlier in the day, stole a vehicle, and fled to Fort White where the vehicle was found abandoned at a residence. The subject was still believed to be in the area. FWC Pilot Cain and Officer Geib responded to the area and assisted from the air. The search was eventually called off that evening; however, the suspect was apprehended by deputies, without incident, a few days later.
Officers Johnston, McDonald, Yates and Cline assisted with a multi-agency manhunt in White Springs. A local bail bondsman was attempting to apprehend a suspect when the subject suddenly turned during a foot pursuit and fired a single shot from a handgun at the bail bondsman. The single shot missed the bail bondsman who ended the foot pursuit and called for additional help. The officers assisted with searching for the suspect for several hours with no success. The suspect was apprehended by deputies a few days later without incident.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROL
Officers are diligently working area lakes for boating and resource compliance. Numerous citations and warnings have been issued over the last couple of weeks.
Officers have been working complaints in the local management areas for mudding and drinking alcohol while driving through the areas. Officer Reith issued some warnings and citations to help gain compliance. They will continue to patrol the areas for all violations.
While on patrol, Investigator Horst saw a subject unload a cooler from his vessel onto a dock. During a resource inspection, the subject stated that the cooler contained sheepshead. The subject was in possession of 22 sheepshead and was issued a resource citation for possessing over the daily bag limit of sheepshead and a citation for not having a saltwater fishing license.
Officers Guirate, M. Jones, Campbell and Mason received a tip that members of the Putnam County Hunting Association were using dogs to run deer during the closed season. They responded to the area and found that there were dogs running deer at night during a closed season. Two individuals were found with the dogs and were cited for the violation. In addition, three citations were issued for possession of alcohol under 21 years of age.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Phillips and Morrow gave a boating safety presentation at the Florida Scrub Jay Trail Youth Summer Camp to a group of approximately twenty children, ranging from ages nine to fifteen. The officers had a patrol vessel on display and educated the group on how to properly navigate a vessel in channels and restricted speed areas, vessel safety equipment requirements and rules and regulations on fishing in fresh and saltwater. At the end of the presentation, the officers discussed the job description and responsibilities of a conservation officer and shared some of their experiences with the group.
While on patrol, Officers Berg and Gonzales received an anonymous call regarding an oversized, out-of-season snook being filleted at Williams Park Boat Ramp. Upon arrival, the complainants approached the officers and offered photographs of the suspects, including their vehicle tag numbers. The officers used the information given to locate the residence of the suspect. Upon arrival at the residence, Officer Berg read the suspect his Miranda rights. After questioning, the subject stated he had the fish inside his house. The officers collected the evidence and the subject was charged with harvesting out-of-season snook.
Officers Berg and Gonzales were conducting fisheries inspections along the Little Manatee River and discovered an undersized out-of-season snook and two undersized mangrove snapper in a subject’s cooler. The officers collected the evidence, and the subject was charged with harvesting out-of-season snook and issued multiple warnings.
While on land patrol, Officers Berg and Gonzales were conducting fisheries inspections along US 41. The officers discovered a truck parked in a high-crime area and awaited the occupants return. During the inspection, the suspect stated he caught a redfish right at 27 inches (maximum size limit). Inspection of the subject’s redfish revealed it was grossly oversized, measuring at 30 inches. The officers collected the evidence and the subject was cited accordingly.
Officer Balfour was on land patrol in Richloam Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when he came across a suspicious vehicle. He identified drugs in plain view in the rear seat of the vehicle. Officer Balfour decided to conduct surveillance and he also requested assistance from Officer Pulaski. The officers also learned the registered owner of the vehicle had a suspended license. After a short time, the vehicle occupants returned, and the officers stopped the vehicle. During the stop, Officer Balfour witnessed the passenger in the back seat throw the drugs out the window. The driver (registered owner) was issued a citation for driving with a suspended license. The passenger was arrested for possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis and resisting arrest without violence.
While on foot patrol at the North Skyway Fishing Pier, Officer Bibeau contacted two individuals that were actively fishing to conduct a fisheries inspection. The two subjects told the officer that they didn’t have any fish and had only been fishing for a little while. Officer Bibeau asked to look inside the trunk of their vehicle since he saw one individual place something in the trunk and close it prior to the inspection. The subjects permitted the officer to inspect the vehicle and upon the inspection, a 16-inch gag grouper was found. One of the subjects admitted to catching the grouper and was given a misdemeanor citation for the violation.
While on land patrol near the North Skyway, Officer Bibeau saw two individuals that were actively spearfishing along the shoreline. Officer Bibeau watched the individuals from a concealed location, and contact was made with them as they returned to their vehicle to conduct a fisheries inspection. After the inspection, Officer Bibeau found one of the subjects to be in possession of a 23-inch cobia. Officer Bibeau wrote the subject a misdemeanor citation for the fisheries violation.
Officers Martinez and Klobuchar were on land patrol at the Fort DeSoto Boat Ramp when they saw a vessel coming into the boat ramp. The officers approached the vessel and learned that the three passengers of the vessel were returning from offshore fishing. Officer Klobuchar performed a resource inspection of the vessel, and found that the three subjects were in possession of eight, out-of-season gray triggerfish. All eight of the fish were under the legal-sized limit of 14 inches. The officers seized the fish, and Officer Klobuchar issued misdemeanor citations for possession of out-of-season gray triggerfish and warnings for possession of undersized triggerfish.
While on land patrol at Gandy Beach, Officers Martinez and Klobuchar saw a male and a female cleaning multiple fish on the shoreline. Officer Martinez approached the two subjects and could immediately identify one of the fish on the shoreline as a snook, which are currently out of season. Officer Martinez read the subjects their Miranda Warnings, and the female subject claimed possession of the snook. Officer Martinez measured the fish and found it to be 20 inches (legal size is 28-33 inches while in season). Officer Martinez issued the subject misdemeanor citations for being in possession of undersized and out of season snook.
Officers Martinez and Ludtke were on vessel patrol near Egmont Key State Park when they approached an anchored vessel which was actively fishing. While performing a resource inspection, the owner of the vessel advised that he was in possession of an undersized gag grouper. The officers seized the fish, measured it, and found it to be 14 inches (legal size for gag grouper is 24 inches). Officer Martinez educated the subjects on the importance of keeping only legal-sized fish and issued the subject a misdemeanor citation for being in possession of undersized gag grouper.
Officer Martinez was on land patrol at Treasure Island when he saw an SUV next to a seawall with multiple fishing poles sticking out of the trunk. Officer Martinez pulled behind the vehicle to see if the subjects inside had been fishing when the vehicle suddenly turned on, pulled away and did not stop for a stop sign. After witnessing numerous traffic violations, Officer Martinez performed a traffic stop. Immediately, the driver stated he did not have a driver license and the subject was slurring his speech and moving very slowly. The female passenger was also acting suspiciously. After both subjects were out of the vehicle, they gave consent to search the vehicle. Methamphetamine, numerous syringes, and other drug paraphernalia were found. Officers Enos and Alvis arrived on the scene to assist. Upon completion of the stop, the driver was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence, and driving with a suspended license. The female was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
While on land patrol at the North Skyway Fishing Pier, Officers Caldwell and Ludtke conducted multiple resource inspections. Through the course of their inspections, they discovered an individual to be in possession of an approximately 12-inch gag grouper. The individual was cited for possession of an undersized gag grouper.
Officer Hinds and Lieutenant Laskowski were on land patrol near the Gandy Bridge when Officer Hinds noticed two individuals walking back to their car carrying a bucket. A redfish tail was visible above the top of the bucket. A subsequent resource inspection revealed one individual in possession of two redfish, one of which was oversized. The individual was cited for possession of over the bag limit and possession of oversized redfish.
Officer Brown was on patrol near the Cocoplum Waterway and noticed a man fishing the waterway. During a resource inspection, Officer Brown discovered that the individual had caught and kept a 25-inch snook out of season. The subject was issued a criminal citation and a notice to appear in court.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Bergwerff, Pulaski and FWC Biologist Gardener conducted an outreach event at a local marina. They presented information on boating safety, marine fisheries, and fishing regulations. Approximately 40 adults and 15 children attended the event.
SOUTH REGION A
Officer Banks was on late-night patrol on State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale when she saw individuals catching blue land crabs. After a fisheries inspection, one individual was cited for having over the legal bag limit of blue land crabs. The individual was permitted to keep the legal limit and, with the help of Officer Brock, 32 blue land crabs were released back to the mangroves alive.
Officers Brock and Banks responded to the Deerfield Beach Pier regarding a complaint of someone catching and keeping undersized mutton snapper. The officers conducted marine fisheries inspections on individuals at the pier. One individual was in possession of 2 undersized mutton snapper. Officer Brock issued the individual a citation for the violation.
Officers Grant and Brock were on patrol at the Dania Beach Pier conducting marine fisheries inspections. One individual was found to be in possession of 2 undersized mutton snapper. He was issued a citation and the fish were seized as evidence.
Officer Vacin was patrolling the beach area in central Fort Lauderdale when he saw a diver offshore that appeared to be spearfishing. As the individual exited the water, the officer conducted a marine fisheries inspection. The individual had indeed been spearfishing and was issued a notice to appear citation for possession of 2 undersized mutton snapper.
Investigator Luher, Lieutenant Bruening, Officer Coker and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Specialist Choi traveled by water to follow up on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) complaint at Loggerhead Marina in Hollywood. The marina was storing, placing and discarding used oil inappropriately and without properly labeling used oil or any secondary containers. The marina manager was given clear and specific instruction to correct and come into compliance. The unannounced inspection revealed the marina was compliant with the direction DEP and FWC had given the marina manager the previous week.
Officers Cobo, Meeks and Rogers were dispatched to a dog in distress inside Jonathan Dickinson State Park. A golden retriever was left by his owner inside a black SUV in the middle of the day with the windows slightly down. The dog was visibly nervous and panting very hard and had been left with no food or water. The owner of the dog was issued a citation for improper treatment of an animal and said he had been on a two-hour boat cruise.
Multiple FWC officers, investigators and supervisors responded to the report of a vessel accident on Fisheating Creek. A recreational airboat operating north of Highway 78 in Fisheating Creek discovered an overturned airboat resting on its side. One male subject was recovered from the water a short distance from the overturned airboat and was unresponsive. The victim was pronounced deceased on the scene by responding emergency medical personnel. He was the only occupant of the overturned airboat. The FWC is investigating the incident.
Multiple FWC officers, investigators and supervisors responded to the report of a fatal gunshot wound to a subject reportedly engaged in a hunting activity. The incident occurred on private property. Upon arrival, a white male (deceased) was located with a gunshot wound to the chest. The incident is currently under investigation by a team of FWC investigators.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
Officers Kirkland and Morrow responded to a complaint of an alligator underneath a resident’s vehicle. Upon their arrival, the officers utilized a catch pole and removed the alligator from underneath the vehicle. The alligator was released alive in an area away from the community.
A report was received about a capsized vessel 1-2 miles off Dania Beach. The wind was approximately 25 knots with gusts of 30 and seas 4 to 6 feet. Officer Coker was operating the patrol vessel with Lieutenant McDonald managing radio traffic with FWC and other agencies on the scene. After approximately 10 minutes on the scene, Investigator Luher spotted one subject face down in the water and jumped into the water to retrieve the victim. She tilted the victim’s head back to establish an open airway in the rough conditions. The victim was transported on Fort Lauderdale’s Fire Rescue boat to the United State Coast Guard (USCG) station.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Morrow spoke with a group of high school students attending an annual Criminal Justice Camp, hosted by Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton. The campers were educated on the FWC’s mission and given the opportunity to ask questions.
SOUTH REGION B
While on water patrol in the northern part of Biscayne Bay National Park, officers stopped a vessel entering the Biscayne Channel. The vessel was returning from the Bahamas and had been fishing for several days. During a boating safety inspection, officers asked if they were returning with fish on board. The captain of the vessel said “yes.” While inspecting whole fish in the cooler, they discovered what appeared to be fish filets in plastic bags. The captain stated that the fish were fileted in the Bahamas and consisted of grouper and snapper. The captain was cited for transporting fish from the Bahamas without leaving the skin intact. A total of 40 filets were counted.
FWC officers on water patrol stopped a vessel for violating a speed zone on the ICW entering the Miami River. While conducting a boating safety inspection, the officers discovered the vessel was smuggling 15 migrants. The operator/smuggler had the migrants concealed in the cabin of the vessel. The FWC officers contacted the USCG who took over the case.
FWC officers conducted “Operation Deep South” in the Southern and Rocky Glades. A total of 120 users were checked. The officers issued13 misdemeanor citations, 6 WMA infractions and 15 written warnings.
FWC officers conducted “Operation Zero Tolerance” in the waters of Miami-Dade. The officers issued 4 resource misdemeanor citations, including 12 undersized mutton snapper, 1 undersized nurse shark, 3 undersized vermillion snapper and 3 BUI citations.
FWC investigators provided back-up assistance to Miami-Dade Police Officer Garcia during the arrest of an individual that was aggressively resisting arrest. As Officer Garcia was struggling with the suspect on the ground, Investigators Corteguera and Nelson, who were across the street working a detail, noticed the physical struggle with the suspect and came over to assist in taking him into custody. Investigator Corteguera held the suspect’s legs in place while Investigator Nelson and Officer Garcia pulled the suspect’s arms behind his back and handcuffed him
Officer Sapp received a call from dispatch regarding a grounded vessel near Big Pine Key. The vessel operator was reported as being intoxicated, and nearly struck other vessels in the area. Officer Sapp located the vessel and conducted standard field sobriety tasks on the operator. Once in jail, the subject’s BAL was found to be .158 and .151, two hours after the initial contact with Officer Sapp. The subject was charged with boating while normal facilities were impaired, and for operating a vessel with a BAC at .08 or higher. The subject’s vessel was safely removed from the grounded position.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
The South B Region Dive Team members trained in conjunction with the Monroe County’s Sheriff’s Office Dive Team in Key Largo. The teams conducted a drift dive through Adam’s Cut in Key Largo. The divers picked up debris and other trash as they conducted their drift dive down the waterway. Officers Rafter and Schroth provided vessel support for the teams.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Curbelo and Bear Biologist Sarah Peltier visited Henry H. Filer Middle School in Miami. Officer Curbelo, a former student, was invited to speak. Officer Curbelo and Ms. Peltier gave presentations on bears, alligators and pythons, as well as allowing students to interact with juvenile alligators.
Officers Curbelo, Reams and Bear Biologist Sarah Peltier attended the Collier County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Club at Oakridge Middle School in Naples. The officers spoke to the students about bears, alligators, and pythons.
Officer Dube gave a presentation to a summer camp group at the Islamorada Fishing Club. Officer Dube talked about the FWC’s core missions, being good stewards of our oceans and life jacket safety while enjoying paddleboard sports. The group consisted of approximately 25 campers, both boys and girls, along with some special needs campers. The campers were treated to a luncheon sponsored by the Islamorada Fishing Club.
Officer Carroll spoke with about 20 students at Key West Community College who are attending a summer camp for the week. Officer Carroll covered topics ranging from FWC’s mission to fishing regulations and boater safety to the kids and counselors.