Marine enforcement officers went ashore for a chase through a waterfront campground Saturday in pursuit of a suspected lobster poacher.
“They were running around trees and trailers, all over the place” at the Sunshine Key RV Resort, says Officer Bobby Dube, information officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Ivan Rodriguez, 46, of Miami was taken into custody after the land-and-sea pursuit. Rodriguez and co-defendant Nelson Amaro-Montesino, 27, of Miami, were booked on conservation misdemeanor counts for illegally harvested lobster, in addition to counts of interfering with an FWC officer and resisting arrest without violence.
FWC Officers Steve Golden and Jason Richards were on water patrol around 7 p.m. Saturday when they responded to reports of suspicious spearfishing.
The officers said they spotted two men snorkeling near the bridge without a required diver-down flag. The snorkelers reportedly were dragging a large jug-type container.
“The officers gave the men a command to get in the (patrol) boat but they refused,” Dube says.
Amaro-Montesino eventually was brought aboard the boat and handcuffed. Meanwhile, Rodriguez “caught the current” and reached shore at Sunshine Key, Dube said. As officers pursued the suspect, Dube said, fishermen on the nearby bridge cheered.
FWC officers reported the men’s container held 31 lobster taken out of season. Of the lobster, 23 had been illegally speared and 20 were below the legal minimum size limit.