Crime

Suspect fails in attempt to swim away from cops

A soggy suspect waded from the water at Fiesta Key late Friday nearly an hour after swimming away from law-enforcement officers.

Jose Elias Lopez, 51, of Miami was greeted by a Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy. A charge of resisting arrest without violence was added to more than a dozen environmental conservation counts lodged by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

FWC Investigator Jeremy Munkelt and Officer Ryan Trueblood were walking along the south end of the Channel 5 Bridge at dusk, keeping an eye out for fishing violations.

When Lopez saw the officers approaching along the embankment at the bridge's Long Key end, FWC spokesman Officer Bobby Dube said, "he threw a bag into the water. Then he went into the water."

"Mr. Lopez got caught in the current so it turned into a search-and-rescue operation," Dube said. FWC shore and marine units along with Sheriff's Office deputies joined the search.

Lopez managed to reach Fiesta Key around 9 p.m., where he was arrested and then booked into the Marathon jail. He was released Monday on a $1,000 bond.

The bag he reportedly attempted to discard got hung up on a tree branch and was recovered. 

Lopez faces counts including possession of undersized yellowtail and mangrove snapper, violating the bag limit on yellowtail and mangrove snapper, and exceeding the 10-fish snapper aggregate limit.

Bucket bust

Two Homestead men were arrested on fisheries charges after a 1 a.m. Friday inspection of their boat at the Indian Key Fill boat ramp in Islamorada.

Lazaro Perez, 44, and Gabriel Perez, 32, face multiple counts of possessing undersized snapper and exceeding the bag limit on snapper.

FWC Officer Paul Hein reported that he asked to check the men's catch at the ramp as they removed their 18-foot boat from the water. They showed him a bucket of yellowtail snapper and other snapper and said that was all they had, Dube related.

"Then Officer Hein found another bucket aboard, which contained the undersized fish," Dube said.

Each man faces 16 counts of possessing undersized yellowtail and counts of exceeding the bag limit. They were released at midday Friday after posting $5,996 bond each.

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