Tuesday, August 16, 2016

FWC Division of Law Enforcement Weekly Report August 5 through August 11, 2016

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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Division of Law Enforcement

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 Weekly Report
August 5 through August 11, 2016
This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.

Patrol, Protect, Preserve




Lieutenant Keen received information that a fugitive from Texas was living on a sailboat near the Panama City Marina. The subject had two active warrants with a combined bond of $120,000. Texas authorities advised they would extradite. Lieutenant Keen, along with Officers Hellett, Goodwin, Gore and Investigator Goss, set up surveillance on the sailboat. They caught the subject returning to the boat one morning and confirmed that he was the fugitive with the active warrants from Texas. Officer Goodwin also charged the subject with giving a false name to law enforcement, drug paraphernalia, failing to transfer title of the sailboat and expired registration on the sailboat. The subject was transported and booked into the Bay County Jail.

Officer Alsobrooks was patrolling St. Andrews State Park and observed a vehicle who failed to stop at a stop sign. The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed as it went through the intersection. Officer Alsobrooks conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle, and as he approached the vehicle, he could smell the odor of cannabis. He confronted the operator with the fact that he could smell the cannabis and the driver produced two cannabis roaches in a drink can. A search was conducted on the vehicle interior that revealed a bag of cannabis which was more than 20 grams. The operator was arrested and booked into the Bay County Jail. He was also issued a citation for failure to obey a traffic control device.


Officer Baber responded to a landowner complaint about a suspect trespassing with a firearm. Once the investigation was completed, and at the direction of the local state attorney, the suspect was charged with felony trespass.


Lieutenant Hahr was patrolling in the Perdido River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when he observed four adults smoking a cannabis cigarette. A search of their belongings revealed a bag of cannabis and a cannabis roach. They were each charged with possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis.


Dispatch received a complaint regarding the possession of a venomous snake whereby the victim was bitten and being treated at a local hospital. Officer Yates located the individual and, after an interview, cited the subject for possession of a venomous reptile without a permit. Officer Yates and Investigator Williams followed up the next day and conducted an inspection at the subject’s residence, issuing numerous warnings for improper caging requirements.


Officer Lewis was on forest patrol in Blackwater River State Forest at a primitive campsite when he observed a man and a woman sitting in a creek sharing what appeared to be a cannabis cigarette. Officer Lewis also observed them drinking beer from glass bottles. Alcoholic beverages and glass containers are prohibited in the area they were in. Officer Lewis observed the adult male toss what they were smoking into the water and immediately approached the subjects. He explained to them that alcoholic beverages and glass bottles were prohibited in the area they were in. He also explained to them that they appeared to be smoking cannabis. The female subject said that the male subject passed her a cigarette to smoke. Officer Lewis thought that was odd because she was almost finished smoking a cigarette as he spoke with her. He asked where the female’s cigarettes were and she retrieved a small bag from a larger bag. She gave Officer Lewis permission to search the bag and he found two smoked cannabis cigarettes. Officer Lewis searched the large bag the small bag was in and found various paraphernalia items containing methamphetamine. The female subject voluntarily stated all the illegal drugs belonged to her. Officer Lewis arrested the female subject and booked her into the Sarasota County Jail for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of cannabis not more than 20 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officer Lewis received a complaint in Blackwater River State Forest in reference to dumped garbage on a forest road. Officer Lewis met the complainant at the dump site and the complainant gave him an article with a name and address on it that was found in the garbage. Officer Lewis was able to ascertain who dumped the garbage, and cited them for littering not more than 15 pounds.

Officer Lewis received a complaint about two Jeeps tearing up the road in the Hutton Unit WMA. Officer Lewis entered the WMA and was met by two Jeeps fitting the description of the complaint. Officer Lewis stopped the Jeeps, and explained to the drivers that there was a complaint about Jeeps tearing up the roads in the area. One of the drivers said that they were doing donuts because they did not think it would be a problem. The driver showed Officer Lewis where they were tearing up the roadway. The complainant identified the drivers of the Jeeps and gave Officer Lewis a written statement. Officer Lewis charged the drivers with destruction of public lands by motor vehicles.

Lieutenant Hahr checked a fisherman returning from fishing with six largemouth bass. The man admitted to catching all of them and was charged with taking over the bag limit of bass.

Officer Land witnessed an individual fishing by himself at the Oriole Beach Boat Ramp during an evening patrol in Gulf Breeze, and approached the individual to inspect his catch. There were multiple fishing poles with lines in the water, a crab net, and a five-gallon bucket. Officer Land asked the man if he had caught anything, and he replied that he had not. The officer then looked into the bucket beside the fisherman, and saw blue crab and stone crab in whole condition. The man stated that the crabs were not his and he was not fishing. The illegal stone crab was photographed and the man was issued a notice to appear. After signing for his citation, the man loaded the fishing poles, crab net, and bucket into his vehicle and left the area. The stone crab was still alive and released back to the water.

While on patrol in Blackwater Bay, Officers Land and Lewis conducted a fisheries inspection of a vessel they saw actively fishing. There were two men on board and when asked about their catch, the captain of the vessel said they had caught some mullet and a sandbar shark. Upon inspection, the officers located the head of a small bull shark. All sharks must be landed in whole condition, and bull sharks must measure at least 54 inches to the fork of their tail. The captain of the vessel was issued a notice to appear for the violation.

Officers Jones, Roberson, and Hughes responded to a complaint from Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) officials of a group who were in possession of large sacks of palmetto berries. The officers arrived to find six males in a pickup truck loaded with freshly picked palmetto berries. They had no permit to harvest and no required permits to be on Eglin AFB lands. All claimed they did not speak English and only the driver produced identification. An investigation ensued which included assistance from a trooper who spoke Spanish and a trooper with rapid identification capability. One individual, the driver and apparent head of the group, was charged with removing vegetation from the Eglin WMA and for having no permit to be on Eglin AFB lands. One member of the group was arrested on an outstanding warrant and transported to Santa Rosa County Jail.



Officers Guy and Forehand responded to a report of six tubers, one an infant, who became stranded after a severe thunderstorm on the Chipola River. The officers located the tubers just after dark and brought them safely back to the tube launch.


Officer Corbin was dispatched to a late-night report received through the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) that a small private plane had crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Several witnesses along the shoreline reported the crash. During Officer Corbin’s response, FWC Officers Molnar, Maltais and Pifer were called out to provide additional vessel support/search. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office marine unit and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) responded as well. Further information received indicated that the plane was a twin-engine, 8-seat Cessna. The OCSO was able to confirm there were no passengers on board, just the pilot. The USCG soon recovered the body of the pilot. The following day, FWC Officers P. Rockwell and Jarvis went to the wreck site by vessel to locate the fuselage. FWC Pilot Tolbert provided air support during the search. Pilot Tolbert quickly located the plane’s fuselage through his sighting of an oil slick and bubbling oil. Officers Rockwell and Jarvis were able to confirm through their vessel side-scan sonar the location of the fuselage and marked the location for recovery efforts.


Officers Jackson, Keelin, Alsobrooks and Gore responded to a search and rescue on Econfina Creek. Four individuals underestimated the time that it would take to canoe from Scott Road to Pitt Springs and were caught on the creek after dark. After a short search, the officers located them walking at the area of Devil’s Hole. They were delivered safely to their vehicle at Pitt Springs.



Officer Burkhead conducted an alligator and wildlife presentation in Marianna at the national “Night Out Against Crime” event hosted by the Chipola Crime Stoppers. Numerous agencies participated in the annual event.