A month-long investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) into illegal activities by a Monroe County man resulted in multiple misdemeanor and felony counts as well as supported law-abiding commercial and recreational anglers.
“The suspect in this case was flagrantly violating trap and tag marking requirements, had committed numerous other commercial fishing violations and had established a one-sided financial arrangement with the victim in this case,” said Public Information Officer Bobby Dube. “Our job in these instances is to remove subjects from the water who are intent on violating Florida law, so law-abiding commercial fishermen don’t have to deal with this kind of unfair competition.”
In early October 2018, FWC Lt. Andy Cox and FWC Officer Justin Powell conducted a routine inspection at the trap yard of Luis Falcon (DOB 9/12/1950), of Little Torch Key. At the Summerland Key trap yard, officers discovered numerous traps and tags associated with a crawfish endorsement (spiny lobster) for Vicente Arencibia, another Monroe County commercial fisherman. Falcon indicated that he had Arencibia’s permission to use his crawfish endorsement, traps and tags.
Subsequent interactions over the course of a month, along with an in-depth investigation, revealed that Falcon had committed several violations of commercial fisheries regulations, including trap and tag violations, and commercial fishing without an applicable saltwater products license (Florida’s commercial license). In addition to numerous misdemeanor resource violations, Falcon was also charged with scheming to defraud and exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult.
Interviews of Arencibia by FWC officers indicated that Falcon had not provided Arencibia with any compensation for the use of his crawfish endorsement, traps and tags. Arencibia was also unaware that his individual saltwater products license with crew endorsement had been assigned to a vessel, enabling Falcon to fish from the vessel without Arencibia being present.
Falcon was arrested and booked into Monroe County jail, where conditions of pre-trial bond include that he is not allowed on state waters of Monroe County.
To report illegal fish, wildlife, environmental or boating crimes, people are encouraged to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com.0