The Meatheads of the Week


Law Enforcement Weekly Report February 24 through March 2, 2017







Officers Forehand and Hayes were on foot patrol in the Apalachee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) checking a baited tree stand they found earlier that morning. As they were nearing the stand, they heard a high-powered rifle shot coming from that direction. Once they got within sight of the stand, they saw a subject walking away from the stand who appeared to be trying to leave the area. The officers checked the area and found fresh blood near the corn that had been placed in the area. The subject admitted that he just shot a doe. The following charges were direct filed through the state attorney’s office: placing bait in a WMA, taking antlerless deer during the closed season and taking deer with a rifle during a shotgun-only hunt. The hunter was also warned for no hunter orange and failure to check in/out at the check station.









Officer Stanley was given information about an individual possessing two deer in a pen next to the River Rise State Park. There were two whitetail deer in one pen and a raccoon in another. All three animals came from the wild. The animals were released back into the wild and written warnings were issued for no permit and cage requirements.


After a three-year investigation and a three-day jury trial, A guilt guilty verdict on a marijuana growing operation was issued by a jury. The main defendant was found guilty on the three following felony charges: 1) Manufacture of Cannabis 2) Conspiracy to Manufacture Cannabis and 3) Possession of Cannabis over 20 Grams. He received 2 years of Community Control (house arrest) followed by 13 years of drug offender probation. The individual’s fine was $16,271 plus $100 for cost of prosecution with a prohibition of any alcohol or illegal drugs.


Lieutenants Ferguson, Barrow, Officers Stanley and Troiano responded to a structure fire at a licensed captive wildlife facility. The facility was conducting routine burning when flames quickly got out of control. The fire spread to a hay bale inside the rhinoceros night house and quickly engulfed the structure. Employees were able to isolate and contain the rhinoceros in a safe area of the enclosure, away from the fire. Alachua County Fire Rescue arrived on scene and put the fire out before any other damage occurred.




Officer Christmas was on routine patrol when he contacted two subjects trespassing by pulling their jon boat from a creek off Alta Drive on CSX Railroad property. A resource inspection of their catch revealed two undersized red drum and one undersized black drum. Neither of the subjects had a fishing license. The fish were seized and returned to the resource alive and the subjects were issued citations for the illegal fish, trespassing and no fishing license.


Environmental Investigator Terrones responded to a large amount of litter that was illegally discarded behind a Jacksonville shopping center. The debris included household garbage, a sleeper sofa, a wall unit, cinder blocks and assorted plastic and paper items. Mail found in the litter led to a nearby residence where an investigation revealed that a realtor had hired a cleaning company to empty the contents of the home. That company subcontracted the work to a third party who, after being interviewed, took full responsibility for the discarded items and was charged accordingly.









Officer Eller received a call that a local retail fish house was selling undersized fish and conducted a retail inspection which reveled four undersized black drum. Further inspection showed that the fish house was also failing to keep adequate records of their trip tickets, which is a violation. The fish house owners were informed about these violations and cited accordingly.


While on night vessel patrol in the Indian River near Sebastian Inlet, Officers Eller and Hallsten noticed a vessel without its white navigational light on. Officer Hallsten initiated a stop and, after a safety inspection was performed, the occupants of the vessel expressed that they had been fishing that night. A fisheries inspection revealed four snook, one of which was undersized. The individual who caught the fish was identified and cited accordingly.


While conducting resource inspections at the Stick Marsh Boat Ramp of the Upper St. Johns WMA, Officer Marroquin saw a vessel returning from a day of fishing. While introducing himself to the occupants, he saw a bag containing clothing move and flop in like a fish. Both occupants stated that no fish were on board. Five largemouth bass were hidden inside a trash bag under clothing and other items. The Stick Marsh/Farm 13 area is a catch and release only area for bass. Citations were issued for the violations.


While on late-night patrol, Lieutenant Lightsey saw two hunting dogs working down a dark roadway. He waited in concealment until the hunters approached on the right of way. He overheard them saying that the dogs must have bayed a hog. Once the men got closer to the area, Lieutenant Lightsey revealed himself and stopped the men. Three men and five hunting dogs were involved in the hog hunt and admitted to having been on private and public land and roadways looking for wild hogs. Citations were issued for hunting from the right of way and the use of hunting dogs with no collar or owner information.


Officers Maslo, Kearney, Rutherford, Cybula, Loeffler and Lieutenant Lightsey participated in a Targeted Enforcement at Sebastian Inlet targeting vessel navigation lights. During the night-time detail, numerous vessels were inspected resulting in 27 warnings, two boating citations, resource citations for snook and flounder, and illegal entry/trespass citations.




Officer Campbell saw several suspects catching oversized and bag limits of black and red drum at Guana Dam. He noted who was catching what and where they were storing their fish. As soon as one of the suspects would land a fish, he would run it up to the trunk of his vehicle and place it into a cooler. Another suspect was seen landing an undersized red drum and hiding the fish in the trash can nearby. After Officer Campbell saw several violations, he made contact with the suspects. Three of the nine suspects were found with oversized black drum, two were found with undersized redfish and one had eight oversized black drum, which put him over the daily bag limit and slot-size limit. The remaining suspects all received warnings for trespass in a state park after hours, and no shore-line license. Four misdemeanor charges were issued for size and bag limits and 17 warnings altogether were written by Officer Campbell. The fish were measured, photographed and seized as evidence.




Officer Ward conducted a boating safety and marine fisheries inspection on a vessel returning to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) Highbridge Boat Ramp just before dark. There were two people on board who were in possession of three redfish, one over the bag limit. The operator claimed two of the redfish and was cited accordingly.


Officer McKee was on water patrol on the St. John’s River near Lake Dexter when he saw a vessel occupied by a single subject violating the manatee speed zone on the west side of the lake. Officer McKee conducted a vessel stop to address the violation and learned the subject had been crappie fishing. A fisheries inspection revealed the subject was in possession of 40 black crappie, 15 over the limit. The subject was issued a citation for the bag limit violation and a warning for the manatee speed zone violation. The 15 over the limit crappie were returned to the water alive.






Lieutenant Chase traveled to Palm Beach County to participate as an instructor for the FWC’s “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” program. The event had more than 125 women in attendance and promoted both safety on the land and in the water.


Lieutenant Chase attended the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Bass Tournament. FWC’s partnership with Lake County Sheriff’s Office was prevalent as they jointly educated both children and adults on the importance of resource management and public safety.




Officers North and Malicoat taught the laws portion of a Hunter Safety class to approximately 20 students at the Volusia County Fairgrounds.


Officer Edson represented FWC at the second Annual Deland High School Ag Expo. He presented a static display and interacted with approximately 200 high school students during the day, answering questions and explaining the duties and responsibilities of FWC officers.









Officer Norris was on land patrol when he noticed the vehicle in front of him drifting in and out of its lane. After observing numerous traffic violations, a traffic stop was conducted on the vehicle. While talking to the driver, the officer noticed signs of impairment and asked the driver to perform field sobriety tasks. The driver was subsequently arrested for DUI and booked into the Charlotte County Jail.




Officers Sehl and Peterson saw two subjects fishing from a canoe on the Weeki Wachee River. One subject stated that he had caught several mangrove snapper. The fish were measured and did not meet the minimum total length requirement of 10 inches. The individual received the appropriate citation for possession of undersized gray snapper. Both subjects also received warnings for fishing without a license.




Officer Alvis was on land patrol conducting night-time fisheries inspections along the Gandy Bridge. A light in the water was visible moving along rock piles just off shore. Continued observation of the light revealed it to be a subject snorkeling and spear fishing without a dive flag. When the subject reached the shore, a fisheries inspection revealed the subject was in possession of several undersized sheepshead and mangrove snapper. The subject was cited for the undersized fish and received multiple warnings.


Investigator McDaniel and Lieutenant DeLacure conducted an interview of a subject and determined that he was in violation of numerous captive wildlife rules.  As a result, 27 box turtles, 1 alligator snapping turtle, and a pair of albinistic western diamondback rattlesnakes were seized and placed at a licensed facility for safekeeping. Two and one-half pounds of cannabis and a firearm were also seized and turned over to the Tampa Police Department who will follow up with that portion of the case.




Officer Hinds was on land patrol in the Terra Ceia area and saw a vehicle parked at the bridge on Bishop Harbor Road. There were no subjects in the area at the time, so he concealed his vehicle and waited for the subject to return. Some time later, a jon boat returned to the bridge. A resource inspection revealed four undersized snook, the largest being 15 inches. All of the fish were caught with a cast net. The subject was cited for the major violation of possession of more than three snook over the daily bag limit, taking snook by illegal method, and possession of snook during the closed season. Officer Hinds also wrote warnings for possession of undersized snook and several boating safety violations. The subject was previously arrested less than one year ago for the same violations.




Lieutenant Laskowski was on land patrol when he saw a vehicle parked in the median near a bridge. A resource inspection revealed one individual was in possession of six mangrove snapper, five of which were undersized, and one undersized sheepshead. The individual was cited for possession of undersized mangrove snapper and issued warnings for possession of over the bag limit of mangrove snapper and possession of an undersized sheepshead.    






Officer Davidson was on land patrol in the area of the Palma Sola Causeway when he was flagged down by a man who clearly needed help. The man explained that his wife and daughter had gone for a walk four hours earlier in Robison Preserve and had not yet returned. Furthermore, the man was unable to reach either one of the women on their cell phones, and he was very concerned about their safety. Officer Davidson immediately started to gather local law enforcement assets to help look for the two women, and at the same time started to search the immediate area. The two women were eventually located in a Walmart parking lot several miles away from the area where they began their walk. Officer Davidson escorted the husband and father of the two missing women to the Walmart where he was reunited with his wife and daughter. The women were well and suffered no injuries.




Officers Cason, Gaudion, Alvis and Lieutenant Holcomb were dispatched to a search and rescue for four subjects on PWCs in the area of North Skyway Rest Area. The subjects had become stranded on a sandbar and one PWC was experiencing mechanical issues. As night fell, the subjects began to drift apart due to the rising tide and strengthening wind and current. All four individuals were soaking wet and cold as temperatures continued to drop. Officers were able to reach one of the subjects by cell phone and pinpoint his location. All subjects were quickly located and transported to safety. The Eckerd College Search and Rescue team assisted in transporting two of the subjects.




Officer Stanley and Lieutenant Spoede assisted FWC biologists with the capture of an injured juvenile manatee near Fort Myers Beach. The manatee was approximately three feet long and suffering from severe cold stress. Officer Stanley was able to maneuver his patrol vessel close enough to allow the biologists to net the manatee without harming it. The manatee was then carried safely to a waiting transport vehicle and taken to a rehabilitation facility for treatment and recovery.






Numerous officers from Pasco and Hernando Counties participated in a joint detail targeting the illegal hunting of deer. Their efforts utilized FWC Aviation to enhance protection of the native deer population and deter illegal night hunting.






Officer Salem taught a hunter education class at the Boy Scout Camp and educated them on hunting laws. Officer Salem also spoke about Florida’s WMAs and the hunting opportunities they offer. Everyone was given an opportunity to ask questions before they started the firearm portion of the course. Approximately 30 people attended the class.




Officer Cloud worked with Senior Wildlife Biologist Angeline Scotten and assisted with weighing coyotes that had been harvested. Tissue samples were taken for research by the University of Florida, assisted by FWC. The state record coyote was weighed in at this event. This was a great opportunity for stakeholders, law enforcement and biologists to work together.




Officer Bell attended the 2017 Annual Burrowing Owl Festival in Cape Coral. The festival is put on by Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife. He worked alongside several attendees such as the Florida State Parks, Charlotte Preserve, Audubon, Lee County Aquatic Preserve, Shell Factory, Lee County Sheriff’s Office Cell Dogs program and many more. Officer Bell was able to speak to and educate approximately 500 people on Florida’s natural resources.


Officer Furbay conducted a hunter education class at the Fort Myers Bass Pro Shops with approximately 30 attendees. Officer Furbay educated them on hunting laws, and also talked about Florida’s WMAs and the hunting opportunities they offer. Everyone was given a chance to ask questions before they started the firearm portion of the course.




Officers Smith, Franks, Scinta, Jones, Pulaski, Infante, Wester, Franks, K-9 Officer Cloud and Lieutenant Fugate assisted as lane judges for the 10th Annual National Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament that was held in Bartow. A total of 470 schools participated in this statewide program, helping our youth learn valuable lessons from mental concentration to self-improvement.









Officers Defeo, Seldomridge and Brock responded to the Mizell/Johnson State Park late at night for a vehicle accident. During the accident investigation, one individual was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). The park sustained damage to various items that the vehicle hit.


While patrolling in Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 2, Officers Tarr, Ryan and Sadelik saw a vehicle trespass into STA 2. Several hours later, they stopped the vehicle as it was leaving the area. During the stop, the officers saw three subjects in the vehicle that were in possession of 37 black bass. The daily limit for black bass is five per person, and only one of those five can be 16 inches in total length or greater. A total of 22 black bass were seized as evidence and misdemeanor citations were issued to two of the subjects that were over the daily bag limit of 5, and over the daily size limit of 1 bass 16 inches or greater.


While patrolling the Everglades WMA Area 2A boat ramp on Loxahatchee Road, K-9 Officer Wright advised that he just saw four vehicles racing at the west end of Loxahatchee Road. Officer Tarr arrived on the scene and saw four vehicles lined up side by side racing at a high rate of speed. Two of the four vehicles were traveling east in the westbound lanes. The drivers were stopped and were issued criminal citations for racing and will have to appear in court.




While conducting fisheries inspections in Martin County, Officer Morrow approached a group of subjects fishing and asked if they had any fish in the cooler, to which they replied that they did not. After inspecting the cooler, an 8-inch mutton snapper was located underneath the ice in the cooler. When questioned about why they had lied about the snapper, the subjects advised they had caught the fish earlier in the day and forgotten it was there. The subjects, who were from out of state, did not have any prior history with fisheries violations. Written warnings were issued to the two responsible parties and the illegal fish was returned to the water alive.




Officers Davis and Crosby were conducting resource inspections in the area of the Kissimmee River due to complaints of people catching more than the legal limit of black crappie. Upon performing an inspection of a subject who was fishing under the Highway 78 Bridge, he was found to have in his possession 52 black crappie, two more than the allowed possession limit of 50. He was issued a notice to appear for possession of more than the allowable two-day bag limit of black crappie.




While conducting land patrol in the JW Corbett WMA, Officers Morrow, Willems and Brevik saw three vehicles returning from off-trail along the M-O Canal. Approaching the first vehicle, Officer Morrow made contact with the 20-year-old driver and saw a marijuana cigarette which the subject claimed belonged to “a friend.” Officers Morrow and Brevik then conducted a search of the vehicle’s interior and located five glass smoking pipes with marijuana residue, two small plastic bags containing marijuana, and two bottles of whiskey. Both the driver and passenger were charged with possession of cannabis under 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia. In addition, the 20-year-old driver was charged with possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. The contraband was seized and placed into evidence with the assistance of Officer Carroll. All subjects were issued warnings for the off-trail violations.


Officer Toby saw an individual fishing on Lake Okeechobee at the Pahokee Marina and conducted a fisheries inspection. The individual was in possession of four undersized black crappie. The individual was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of the four undersized black crappie.


Officer Toby saw an individual fishing on Lake Okeechobee at the Pahokee Marina and conducted a fisheries inspection. The individual was in possession of three undersized black crappie that were hidden in a plastic bag. When lawfully stopped, the individual made efforts to hide these fish from inspection, despite several warnings. The individual was issued a misdemeanor citation for the possession of three undersized black crappie and a misdemeanor citation for obstructing an FWC officer.


Officer Toby saw an individual fishing near Lake Okeechobee at the Canal Point Structure and conducted a fisheries inspection. The individual was in possession of four undersized black crappie. Additionally, the individual did not have a valid freshwater fishing license. The individual was issued a misdemeanor citation for the possession of the four undersized black crappie and a warning for the expired freshwater fishing license.






Officer Boulware conducted patrol at the Okeechobee Battlefield State Park for the Seminole War Re-Enactment. Attendance was approximately 3,500 people during the three-day event.


Officer Nasworth attended the B.A.S.S. Masters anglers meeting at the K. O. A. Campground in Okeechobee. There were approximately 110 professional anglers present during the meeting and he answered boating safety-related questions from the attendees.









Officers Arbogast, Lugg, and Plussa responded to a boating accident that involved multiple personal watercraft (PWC) from a local tour group out of Marco Island. The accident occurred in a remote portion of the Ten Thousand Islands Wildlife Refuge. Officers quickly made their way to the accident scene along with the Collier County Sheriff’s Marine and Emergency Medical Service’s Marine Units. The two PWC collisions involved all four occupants being ejected into the water. One occupant suffered a back injury, but was in stable condition and flown by medical helicopter to a Fort Myers hospital. Officer Rogers, from Lee County, responded to the hospital locally to obtain a statement from the injured party. Officer Arbogast conducted the boating accident investigation and issued a citation to the operator of the striking PWC for a navigation rule violation of failing to maintain a proper lookout, and three warnings for navigation rule violations relating to safe speed, taking action to avoid a collision and careless operation of a vessel. Officer Arbogast issued the livery operator and tour guide a citation for not possessing the required boating safety education credentials mandated for PWC rental operators. The rest of the parties returned to shore without further incident.


Officers Miller and Richards on the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Interceptor were on patrol in federal waters off of Monroe County when they initiated a marine fisheries inspection on a vessel pulling stone crab traps. Officer Richards noted several crates of live stone crabs, stone crab claws and approximately 60 stone crab traps on board. Officer Richards inspected 15 trap tags that were not assigned to the operator or the vessel. Also, the buoys that were attached to these traps did belong to the operator. The operator indicated that the buoys were his and that the tags were his son’s. The operator was cited for failure to possess the proper saltwater products license for the traps that were in his possession and for improperly marking the buoys attached to the traps.




Two FWC officers were patrolling around Moody Canal and saw two subjects fishing alongside the north side of the canal. As the officers approached the subjects, one of the subjects threw several fish in the water. When asked why he had thrown the fish, the subject replied that he knew the fish were undersized. A fisheries inspection was performed and 3 undersized gray snapper and 2 undersized black drum were discovered. The subjects were charged for the undersized fish and the subject who threw the fish in the water was also charged with interfering with an FWC officer.




Officer Swensson noticed a boat returning from the ocean with three individuals on board as they entered South Sound Creek in Key Largo. Two of the individuals were sitting on a cooler in the front of the boat. Officer Swensson noticed a billfish tail and bill sticking out of the cooler. A resource inspection revealed that the subjects were in possession of one undersized sailfish and one undersized amberjack. One of the subjects on board admitted to catching both fish. The subject was cited accordingly.


Officers Mobley and Lopez were on water patrol in the area of Cow Key Channel working a detail targeting live-aboard inspections in the lower Keys and conducted a vessel stop on a dinghy that had an improper display of registration numbers. During the inspection, they saw signs of impairment from the operator. The operator consented to complete field sobriety tasks where he exhibited sufficient behavior to indicate impairment and was subsequently arrested. Officer Mobley met Officer Baumgartner at Cow Key Marina to transport the subject to the Stock Island Jail, where he refused to provide a breath alcohol sample.


Officer Baumgartner conducted a boating safety inspection on a sailboat in Key West Harbor. Upon approach of the vessel, she detected a strong odor of cannabis. While boarding the vessel to conduct a marine sanitation device inspection, she noticed a glass pipe on the floor. The individual on board had bloodshot eyes and admitted to having “packed a bowl” prior to the boarding. The individual also admitted to having marijuana in his possession as well as having other drug paraphernalia on board. FWC Dispatch reported active, out-of-state warrants for probation violation and burglary, with a record of resisting arrest and the individual was arrested accordingly and cited with two uniform boating citations. While on land patrol, Officer Baumgartner noticed an individual filleting fish along the shoreline. The individual discretely tried to throw a fish upon her approach. However, the fish landed in the middle of road. Officer Baumgartner was able to identify the partially filleted fish as an undersized mangrove snapper. With the assistance of Officer Garcia, the Spanish-speaking individual was Mirandized and admitted to filleting and throwing the fish. The individual also admitted to possession of three undersized black drum. The individual was cited for undersized resource, failure to land in whole condition and interference with an FWC Officer.






Officers Carroll and Adams were dispatched to a large distressed Loggerhead Sea turtle (named Jolly) that was wrapped up in lobster trap lines and some netting approximately 16 miles offshore of Key West. Officers arrived and attempted to free the 300+lb turtle from the multiple trap lines when they noticed that one of its fins had been injured by the trap ropes. After working to secure and load the turtle, which took approximately two hours, they then contacted personnel from the Marathon Turtle Hospital who sent some representatives to the area. The Turtle Hospital employees were picked up and transported by USCG out to the location. The Turtle was later brought back to shore to the Turtle Hospital and it has since had surgery and will be prepared to be released in the next few months.




Officer Garcia recovered a Marmoset Monkey and turned it over to Captive Wildlife Investigator Smith for further investigation. Investigator Smith was able to locate the owner of the monkey, return the monkey to the owner, and issued the owner a misdemeanor citation for the escape. Two warnings were issued for other violations related to this incident.






Officer Plussa was travelling on I-75 when he saw a vehicle crashed into a ditch and a male subject laying outside of the vehicle. He exited his patrol truck and found the subject with a severe neck injury due to the accident. Officer Plussa stabilized the subject’s neck and back until Emergency Medical Services arrived to transport the subject to the nearest hospital. The case was turned over to Florida Highway Patrol.


Officers. Wilkins and Sutter responded to a call received from a Good Samaritan concerning two missing jet skiers that were from out of state. With very little information to go off of, the two officers got on a boat to begin the search. Officer Maldonado, Investigator Daniels and the US Coast Guard all assisted with the search. A short time later, Officers Sutter and Wilkins located the two missing jet skiers using FLIR on the south end of the Whale Harbor Channel on the ocean side. A few minutes later, Officer Maldonado and Inv. Daniels arrived on scene to assist. The two men had been stuck on the sand bar for several hours with no way of communicating to anyone as to their location. Officer Wilkins walked out to the two men to help assist them back to the FWC vessel. The two men were reunited with their friends and family unharmed.






Officer Johnson participated in an enforcement effort with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Customs and Border Patrol focusing on commercial stone crab, kingfish, as well as detecting stolen vessels, refuel vessels and human smuggling. Several vessels were encountered and pertinent information was obtained for Customs and Border Patrol.




FWC Officers concluded the first half of operation “License to Sanitize” which focused on retail/wholesale inspections that included facility sanitation, product wholesomeness, records keeping and licensing. A total of 25 inspections were conducted resulting in warnings and citations. Most locations were in compliance with regulations.


FWC Officers concluded “Manatees Matter” detail with USFW, which resulted in numerous federal manatee citations and warnings. The detail focused on the areas of 79th street and ICW towards the Malloy Channel.


FWC Officers put together Operation “Boat Show Showdown” focusing on a habitat protection area near the 2017 Boat Show in Miami-Dade County. Officers, along with FWC biologists, provided high visibility enforcement, educating boaters and keeping them from entering the No Entry Zone.






Lieutenant Bulger attended the Collier County Sheriff’s Office’s Kids Love Fishing event. This yearly event invites families from Collier County to spend the day learning about fishing and conservation.


Officer Barringer attended the annual Rookery Bay shoreline bird meeting, which is an opportunity for partners such as FWC biologists, FWC law enforcement, National Audubon Society, Rookery Bay staff, and Team OCEAN to meet and share information about shorebird and seabird nesting data in Collier County. The meeting was set up to learn more about statewide bird data and provide an opportunity to discuss important management issues that arose during the 2016 – 2017 nesting season. The meeting was a huge success with more than 10 individuals from around the State.


Officer Araujo spent an afternoon engaging with youth hunters during a youth spring turkey hunt at Pepper Ranch. Pepper Ranch is owned by the county and provides unique opportunities for Collier County youths to spend a weekend out in the woods and go on guided hunts. Youth hunts at Pepper Ranch include turkey, hog, and deer hunts. One young man harvested his first gobbler and was extremely excited. Officer Araujo spoke with the kids about what it’s like to be an FWC officer and answered questions about conservation.