Let’s check in with Sheriff Rick Ramsay

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

The Sheriff’s Office is ready for the approaching storm.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We remain on duty all the time. During storms we go to what’s called an Alpha Bravo watch. It has doubled the manpower. Everybody has to work. Nobody has off days. So shifts are so fully packed with staffing. We are going to see the impacts of a decent sized hurricane passing a couple hundred miles out on the Bay. With that, we’ve seen this before, we should expect tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday, increased winds, some squalls, some feeder bands as they go by, probably some potentially tropical storm conditions, light rain. We should be monitoring low lying areas, where we may have one to two foot of increased tide. We’ve got to remember to that we’re currently in a high tide cycle. So right now we’re experiencing tides which are higher than normal anyway, on top of that one to two. So our friends in low lying areas will have to take precautions. Make sure we pick up loose stuff that could fly around and become hazards.”

An 18 year old man from Big Pine Key was arrested Thursday for illegal drug and firearm possession that followed a traffic stop.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “I encourage my men and women to do a lot of traffic enforcement, because it’s the biggest complaint we get and it’s the most likely to have a loss of life and injuries from traffic crashes. So while they’re out there, I do encourage them to try to look for other stuff because we say people use their cars to commit crimes. We did stop a car for traffic violations and during this traffic violation, we did smell the odor of marijuana coming out of the car. Because there was no metal marijuana card it gave us probable cause to search the car. We did find two loaded handguns, a 40 caliber Glock and a nine millimeter. The person in the car had a girlfriend with them also. The occupant owner of the guns and car is a convicted felon, not allowed to be in possession of any firearms and or ammunition. So we did arrest him for multiple violations of narcotics, weapons, seized these guns and going to hold him accountable. We just don’t understand when you are not allowed to legally possess a gun, why you would. You’re only going to get yourself in some really serious trouble. We want to get guns off the streets for people who can’t make good solid sound decisions. And this person is one of those people.”

A 48-year-old Marathon man was arrested on Saturday. He was fleeing and eluding and ended up going 87 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We clocked the car doing 87 in a 55, around the 71 mile marker. My deputy turned on the lights and sirens before the car even passed him. So we put the lights and siren on, the car passed in opposite direction, did not slow down, did not try to yield. A deputy turned, started trying to catch up to the vehicle which continued at a high rate of speed. The vehicle got up around a Fiesta Key which is just about the 70 mile marker on the south side of the Channel Five Bridge. And then it started into Fiesta Key. As we got in their way found the car pulled in, parked blacked out just before the gate. Deputy encountered the driver. The driver said, I’m sitting here waiting for my friend who lives in the park who’s in there, but couldn’t give us a name or a lot number. He resided in the Marathon area. So we did arrest him for felony fleeing and eluding. Look, people get stopped all the time for speeding. If an officer is going to stop you, just stop, be cooperative. You’re more likely to get off by being cooperative than trying to lie, but certainly don’t try to flee and have a pursuit going on. You’re going to hurt yourself or somebody else. You’re going to get killed, kill somebody and you’re going to go to jail for manslaughter, or here you’re going to go to jail for felony fleeing and eluding and have your car towed.”

A 53-year-old Kendall, Florida man was stopped for speeding and was found to be driving a stolen vehicle from Massachusetts.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “If you’re committing crimes, or don’t have licenses, or you have drugs in the car, or guns or you’re in a stolen car, you shouldn’t be speeding. You should be following the traffic laws not to draw attention to yourself, we would think. We stopped this car for speeding. We get the driver out, gave us a name and date of birth, gave us a license but the license later on wound up being a false fake license. As we’re out with them, we run the tag. The tag comes back to a Toyota vehicle, but the Toyota year and make are about 10 to 15 years in difference. So my deputy is smart enough, he knew enough that this was not the right vehicle. So he tried to look for the VIN number to see what was going on, on the door and on the dash. He found both VIN numbers to be destroyed, scratched out missing, not able to be seen or viewed. So we clearly knew someone tried to hide the VIN numbers. We tried to get more information on him because we did not believe that the name he was giving us a correct. We were eventually able to find a VIN number and then to run it to find that was stolen from Massachusetts. We were eventually able to identify who he was because when it came back stolen, the information also said may be in the possession of this person’s name. So then we had his name, we’re able to then pull his driver’s license photo of that individual who was maybe going to be in possession of the car to see they’re one and the same, to see that he gave us a false name, lied to officers, obstructed our investigation, had a fake driver’s license. So we got to have multiple charges, grand theft auto, had no insurance, no license, false information, false ID, obstruction, resisting officers. So a lot of good charges come out of that, but again, we keep saying we are able to stop so much crime and prevent crime from occurring by doing traffic enforcement.”

Ten people were arrested for a marine GPS theft ring recently.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Marine related thefts are so prevalent in South Florida especially because we just have so many boats and there’s so much dollar amount of property. So we had experienced about a half a dozen marine thefts that were occurring at marinas and boatyards. We had about six cases. I ordered what’s called a targeted rapid action patrols, overtime details and had staffing focus on this investigation. We’re able to identify a person of interest who lived in Miami Dade County. We then set up surveillance in another county with the assistance of that county as well. After about four days of surveillance, it panned out to follow the ringleader, two other suspects from Dade all the way to Collier County, where we then called Collier County to help us follow these people. They followed them into a marina where they broke into the marina where they ransacked multiple boats, stole a bunch of GPSs. That really opened the case up. We got the cell phones from the suspects. We got search warrants for the phones, we got into the phones, which revealed so much information. We identified 17 counties, who had been targeted by this organized crime ring from North Florida, Jacksonville to Key West, to the west coast to the east coast. We passed information on to every agency about who was doing it, what locations. We had the crime locations for 194 locations that were targeted for crimes. So we knew where the crimes took place. I told the sheriff in Hillsborough County, here’s 62 addresses where crimes took place and here’s the names of the people who did it and here’s the information. Here’s the text messages which showed them doing pin drop at the locations and talking about the crimes. So we’re able to close out our cases. We had arrest warrants for 11 people. We worked with Miami Dade County because all 11 lived in Miami Dade County, all are males and most were young, early 20s. We were able to arrest 10 out of 11. The 11th person we knew was out of state. We know where he’s at. We know who he is. Two bonds on two of the prime ringleaders were $1,085,000. The ring leader’s currently out on bond in Indian River in Collier County for the same offense. Four out of the 11 were out on bond from other counties for doing the same thing, stealing high-end GPSs. So we’ve not only disrupted but we’ve dismantled a statewide organized crime ring. I’m proud of the men and women in the sheriff’s office. We take a hardline stance here. We talk about the relentless pursuit of criminals. We say it and we back it up.”

The sheriff’s office also helps with wildlife violations as well.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is Marine Officer Nelson Sanchez, who’s assigned to the sector six, Islamorada area, doing his work on the environment, doing a resource check around one of the bridges, did find this individual to be in possession of the lobster and stone crab, and in violation of both state law. So it’s a good job by him and obviously, we did give him notice to appear, the criminal court date. We keep trying to educate, send messages about the enforcement. We have more enforcement here than most other areas. We always say you’re more likely to get caught here, prosecuted, spend more time in jail. We’d rather people did not commit crimes, so we want to educate them trying to prevent them, deter them from doing it. But if they do it, we are going to aggressively come after people on the land, on the sea, no matter what and where they’re doing it, if they’re violating law, we’re going to enforce the laws of the state.”