Relating to an article which appeared in the On the Conservation department of Florida Sportsman magazine, May 2012, the FWC released the following news bulletin this week in the commission’s Law Enforcement Activities Report:
Working from intelligence developed by Officers Jim Fillip and Kelsea Wiernicki, South A Region officers put together an operational detail targeting illegal gill netting in the Martin and St Lucie County waters. The detail targeted several suspects long known to have ties to poaching and netting violations. The suspects, aided by family members, utilized counter-surveillance to avoid detection of their activities. Land, water and aviation units conducted covert surveillance of two suspects and observed them setting and retrieving gill nets by vessel in state waters. When the suspects returned to shore, land units converged and took them into custody. The net was found to contain pompano and other species of fish. The net, boat and vehicle used by the suspects were seized and the suspects were booked in jail on charges ranging from resource violation, safety and registration violations, and warrants. The case is not fully resolved, but most of the equipment has been forfeited to the state and fines and court costs exceeded $31,000.00. Over five years imprisonment for one of the suspects has already been levied. With successful prosecution on the remaining charges, substantial additional fines and jail time are expected.