Two men accused of poaching almost 500 spiny lobsters out of season were arrested and charged in Miami-Dade County with multiple misdemeanor charges, wildlife officials said Friday.Javiel Vergel, 37, and Eriel Casana Menendez, 39, were arrested Sunday and charged with possession of lobster tails out of season, according to a report released Friday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The commission report stated the men "grossly exceeded" the daily bag limit of six lobsters per day per person, which is for the regular lobster season that runs Aug. 6 through March 31. Also, lobster tails can't be separated from the body before bringing them ashore. The men had 468 wrung lobster tails.
Of the illegally harvested lobsters, 283 lobsters were under size and one was an egg-bearing female, which are illegal to harvest in Florida.
The men were also found in possession of one undersized stone crab claw and one queen conch. Stone crab season is currently closed, and queen conch is illegal to possess in state waters, the commission noted in its report.
The FWC received information from a local law enforcement agency alleging that Vergel and Mendenz were acting suspiciously while loading a boat onto a trailer at a boat ramp in Miami. Upon further investigation, they discovered a garbage bag full of lobster tails, wildlife officials said.
FWC officers discovered more grocery bags full of spiny lobster tails stowed in various compartments on the boat.
Vergel and Menendez, both of Hialeah, were released on Monday after posting $5,000, jail records show. It was not immediately known if either have an attorney.
"The possession of more than 450 illegally harvested lobster tails is a serious violation," said FWC Maj. Alfredo Escanio. "This incident demonstrates how strong working relationships with other law enforcement agencies can help the FWC protect our natural resources."