On October 18, 2014, Jorge Vargas was arrested by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Guerra. Deputy Guerra noticed Mr. Vargas was in possession of over 267 wrung lobster tails. He was charged by the State Attorney Office with Harvest or Possession of Spiny Lobster without Spiny Lobster Endorsement, a felony, and eight misdemeanors: Possession of Crawfish Over Limit, Possession of a Wrung Tail, Possession of Undersize Crawfish, Harvesting Lobster at Night, Operating a Vessel with a Trap Puller Aboard, Commercial Harvest Without Saltwater Products License, Commercial Harvest without Restricted Species Endorsement, and Harvest of Crawfish Without a Measuring Gauge.
After the arrest, law enforcement became aware that Mr. Vargas had an outstanding warrant from 2011. In that case, he was charged with misdemeanors due to his possession of lobster over the bag limit, wrung tails, undersized lobster and stone crab out of season. That arrest was made by Lt. Riesz of the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Mr. Vargas entered pleas in both cases on April 1, 2015, before Judge Ruth Becker in Marathon. For the 2014 case, he received a sentence of 364 days in jail, 5 years probation, 100 hours of community service, fines in the total amount of $15,800. Mr. Vargas was ordered to stay off the waters of Monroe County as a condition of his probation. In the 2011 case he was ordered to serve 364 days in jail, and fines totaling $12,880. The sentences are concurrent.
All law enforcement agencies worked very closely together during the prosecution of this case. At the sentencing, members of both FWC and the Sheriff’s office were in attendance as well as representatives from local fishing associations. “This sentencing demonstrates how strong working relationships with other agencies can help FWC protect natural resources in Florida” said FWC Captain David Dipre. “The State Attorney Office thanks members of Monroe County Sheriff Office, FWC and our partners in the fishing industry with their exemplary efforts to apprehend and prosecute those who continue to violate these crimes.