Let’s check in with Sheriff Rick Ramsay

July 11 – Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been happening in the Keys.

The body of a Minnesota resident was discovered on an upper Keys boat ramp last week.

Sheriff Ramsay said there were no signs of foul play, no signs of a crime scene. Homicide detectives and the major crime units were on the scene.

The cause of death is still uncertain at this time.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “When we come out to these things while we think there’s no play, we treat every unintended death as if it’s a crime scene in the event that some way later on we determine that some foul play has taken place.”

Evidence is collected, witnesses are interviewed and neighborhoods are canvassed. The autopsy is then performed.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We hope it’s a natural situation, but we are working on that case and we will let our listeners know if there’s any nefarious stuff occurring, but at this point in time it is believed to be potentially a natural situation that was either a result of medical or potentially an overdose.”

The coast guard intercepted 29 Cuban migrants off the coast of the Florida Keys over the weekend.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We are seeing migrant landings every couple days. They’re coming left and right. We did have a Sheriff’s Office patrol boat on the scene of that one. I think a lot migrants still think that the wet foot, dry foot policy, that if they make it here, they’re guaranteed to stay, which is not the case. So when we’re just out there, we had all the migrants trying to sink the boat at the same time jump off the boat and start swimming to shore, which makes it very difficult because a lot of migrants can’t swim, or are poor swimmers, don’t have lifejackets on and then you’re trying to get them on the boat and they don’t want to get on the boat, so as you’re pulling up next to them, they’re changing directions. So it’s very difficult, challenging.”

When a large group of people jump in the water and disperse to various directions, the situation can very quickly turn into a life threatening scene.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Good job by our personnel from various state, local and federal law enforcement areas to get these people under control, on the boats, get them to shore, provide medical attention, hydration and then let our friends at the federal government decide what happens with them.”

Two men were cited for illegal lobsters recently – one of whom was a local from Marathon and another from Texas.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Unfortunately we do have a lot of poaching which occurs year round. Most time it’s people we think from out of county. Miami-Dade is one of our biggest offenders.”

A Sheriff’s patrol boat stopped a boat that was coming in and the people were acting suspicious. They had signs of harvesting. Initially, officers couldn’t find the lobster, but law enforcement was confident there was contraband on board the boat.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Eventually told the people, look. I know there’s something on board this boat. I’m going to take you to shore. We’re going to tear this boat apart if I have to. We’re going to find it. You either cooperate or you don’t. If you cooperate, we’ll give you a notice to appear if you’ve got contraband. If you don’t and we find it after going through the boat, you’re going to go to jail. So they took the lesser of two evils and decided to tell us where the products were hidden, which was probably a smart move. So we did give them a notice to appear in lieu of physical arrest because of their cooperation.”

They had seven out of season live lobsters which were returned back to the waterways.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “One was a local who surely should know better. It’s a shame, but we continue to do our part to try to protect our environment. It’s a difficult, challenging job because there are a lot of people out there which are violating our laws in the waters and harvesting and poaching. They’re only destroying the future of these products for the future generations. For our tourism, for our kids, for our grandkids.”

Sheriff Ramsay has been in the Keys since 1976 and has seen a decline in the population of fish and lobster and other animals.

“We’re just trying to protect and preserve it for future generations,” he said.