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Everglades Crab Poachers Cited

June, 2005

Everglades National Park, Florida - On February 19th, the Flamingo Ranger Station was notified that a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer had discovered several stone crab traps within the park. The traps were reported to be located near Sandy Key in Florida Bay.

Rangers Jennifer Langel and Mike Michener took a patrol boat to the location, where they found over 200 crab traps deployed illegally inside the park boundary. The rangers obtained FWC endorsement numbers from several of the buoys attached to the traps. Langel then began an investigation to locate the owners of the traps. She contacted FWC special agent Carlo Mirado, who told her that he’d been notified of the location of the traps by a confidential informant two days previously. On that same day, Mirado and FWC officer Seth Kern went to the location and located the traps. They also obtained endorsement numbers and determined that the traps had been tended and freshly baited. Mirado also said that the confidential informant had told him that there were four persons involved in the trapping operation, all of whom had been trapping for years and knew that they were within the park’s boundary.

Langel obtained owner information from FWC using the endorsement numbers. Guillermo Torna, Heriberto Castillo, Carlos Alvarez and Pedro Albernas, all residents of Marathon, Florida, were identified as the owners of the traps. Each of the four was issued violation notices for commercial fishing within the park. Mirado knew the defendants and agreed to serve the violation notices, since the involved parties only spoke Spanish. Charges against Albernas were dropped when he was able to provide documentation that he had sold his traps to Castillo. The three remaining defendants each forfeited $3,500 in collateral and the case is now closed.



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