While living and visiting paradise is amazing, please be careful in the water

Captain David Smith with the Monroe county Sheriff’s Office joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

A body was found in the water recently near Stock Island.

Captain Smith said, “This is an ongoing investigation, so I don’t have too much to say but this is a very sad situation. A passerby did locate a decedent of a male in the mangroves off of Fifth Street. Thank you to our partners, FWC. They assisted us, picked us up off the land and drove us out there, located the decedent and recovered the individual and took him back to shore and shout out to Coast Guard Sector Key West as well to for the assistance, but as of right now the investigation is ongoing. It’s turned over to our Major Crimes Unit and further details will be provided but as of right now it’s ongoing investigation and we don’t have too much right now.”

A fishing gear theft case that has been ongoing saw additional charges being filed against a Homestead Florida man.

Smith said, “This was a case that kind of developed in the Middle Keys but it spans all the way up to Key Largo. Detectives have been working diligently to bring this case to culmination through surveillance. Actually worked with road patrol, they located a 20 year old homestead Florida man and arrested for all of these stealing of the fishing poles throughout Monroe County. He faces a litany of additional grand theft charges because of his role in multiple boat burglaries stemming from September 2023. He also faces some new charges, they found some bait traps and stuff up there and Duck Key as well were taken. A second man that was with him, another 18 year old male out of Miami, Florida, was also previously arrested in these cases, but through talking with these individuals found that there was more involvement. So they were able to do subpoenas and search warrants on some of these males and phones and locate more evidence and then the public as well coming forward and saying, hey, my fishing stuff was stolen as well. So it was just a great investigation, partnerships with the public and locals and the detectives really worked diligently and very hard on this case to collect all the items and try to get it back to the public.”

Resource checks earlier last week resulted in a number of violations, including 10 undersized mangrove snapper, five undersized schoolmaster snapper, one undersized hog fish and a parrot fish.

Captain Smith said, “So as we always talk about, we take this very serious. This is our natural resources and people come down and want to take more than they should, which is very confusing to us that live down here. There’s regulations for a reason. In the middle keys, deputies were conducting some resource checks at approximately 4:20pm on the Channel Two Bridge.”

A man from Miami, FL, and a man from Lehigh Acres, FL, were found in possession of the above listed fish.

Captain Smith said, “They were all cited for all these fish, it just goes to show you that people they just keep coming down, walking these bridges and just fishing off these bridges and pillaging our local resources. I mean, this is our livelihood, but thank you to the deputies that were out there walking and just holding these people accountable.”

Also 18 different businesses were checked for being in compliance with alcohol laws and not selling to minors. Four businesses were found to be in violation of selling alcohol to minors.

Captain Smith said, “Our Special Investigations Division conducted some operation checking of businesses that actually sell alcohol that have the alcohol license to sell in the Upper Keys. These business served alcohol to a minor during the investigation. These clerks who sold the alcohol were all issued notices to appear before a judge in Monroe County. The maximum penalties from violations could be significant fines up to 60 days in jail. Firstly, the licensee, the business, the violations are first offense is about $1,000 fine up to seven days suspension. Our special investigations unit just to go out and check these businesses and to educate them as well. It is illegal, you cannot sell alcohol to minors, and the possession and consumption and all that. It is good that we educate them as well.”

Last week a 65 year old gentleman from Houston passed away after snorkeling off of Key West.

Captain Smith said, “This is a very sad situation. The sheriff does say time and time again, it’s a beautiful place to come on vacation, but you have to know your limitation. You have to know when to say I can’t do this. The man was snorkeling and reportedly lost consciousness. They did perform CPR. The US Coast Guard brought the man to shore to waiting paramedics. But he was eventually pronounced at Lower Keys Medical. There was no foul play expected to be a factor in this incident. So another sad situation that Sheriff Ramsey always says, you come to the beautiful Florida Keys, but you have to know your limits when you get down here.”