October 24, 2014

Stock Island man arrested for cocaine

A Stock Island man was arrested and charged with possessing a large amount of cocaine after a search warrant was served at his home Thursday afternoon.

Detectives served the warrant at 3:30 p.m. at F3 Cross Street, at the rear apartment. They found 51 year old Renan Viart Sotolongo at home. Inside, the search turned up 141 grams of cocaine in various locations. They also found $8,021 in cash. Sotolongo was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine.

Working together on the service of the search warrant were Sheriff's Office / Monroe HIDTA,Key West HIDTA/Special Investigations, agents from Homeland Security Investigations, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

October 22, 2014

Be careful: Fantasy Fest and Halloween coming up

With Fantasy Fest this week and Halloween coming up next week, the Sheriff’s Office would like to remind people to be extra careful while driving in heavy event traffic. Also, if you plan to attend any parties or other activities, make sure you plan ahead to have a sober driver available if you plan to drink alcohol.

Although most Fantasy Fest activities take place in the city of Key West, the Sheriff’s Office will be helping out with extra security at many city events and will also be performing extra patrols to make sure everyone is safe on our roadways.

Traffic is expected to be especially heavy southbound into the city of Key West Saturday in the late afternoon and then again late in the evening as people travel to and from the Fantasy Fest parade. Sheriff’s Office road patrol and traffic enforcement deputies will all be working to ensure traffic keeps moving, and that no one is driving dangerously.

The following week, Halloween falls on Friday and deputies will be out county-wide to make sure kids who are trick-or-treating are safe. Parents should ensure that small children are accompanied by either older children or responsible adults, that they carry a flashlight if possible and that their costumes have some sort of reflective material to make them visible to drivers.

In the Lower Keys, Halloween coincides with the homecoming Key West High School football game. Because of this, there may be even more teens out and about than is usual for this holiday.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to caution parents and teens alike: serving alcohol to those under the age of 21 is illegal and you will be arrested if caught doing so. Possessing alcohol when you are under 21 is also illegal and is also an offense you can and will be arrested for.

Many teens think it is fun to throw eggs, shaving cream, toilet paper and other items at cars, homes and other people. Some also like to use spray paint to “tag” property. Our officers will be out on Halloween night performing extra patrols for such activity. This type of activity is criminal mischief and, as such, is against the law. If we catch you, you will be arrested. The only time any of this type of behavior is legal would be as part of an organized, adult supervised activity with everyone involved a willing participant.

Merchants in the Florida Keys are asked to refrain from selling large amounts of shaving cream, spray paint and/or eggs to young people to help us to curtail this destructive behavior.


In Marathon, there will be a few road closures on Halloween night to increase the safety of pedestrians and children. Between sunset and 10 p.m., the intersections of Aviation Boulevard and Dolphin, Marlin and Harbor Drives will be closed. Residents with identification showing them live on these streets will be allowed to pass.

Halloween Safety tips

Halloween is a special time for children, but children don’t always know what is and is not safe. If your children are going  trick or treating on Halloween, there are several tips to follow for their safety.

·         Make sure they wear light colored costumes with plenty of reflective tape so they are visible to cars and trucks. Take a flashlight along for added visibility.
·         Look left, right and left again when crossing the street.
·         Put electronic devices away so there are no distractions.
·         If possible, have them go while it is still light outside.
·         They should be accompanied by an adult, or an older brother or sister.
·         Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
·         They should not sample candy given to them until it has been checked by an adult for possible tampering.
·         Notify a deputy if suspicious or harmful items are found in your child’s collection of treats.
·         They should stay away from homes with dogs loose in the yard.
·         Having a Halloween party is a good alternative to the tradition of trick or treating. It gives kids an opportunity to have a good time in a supervised and safe atmosphere.

Tips for people driving on Halloween:

·         Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may dart in front of cars when crossing the street.
·         Take extra time and look carefully for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
·         Enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully.
·         Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
·         Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
·         Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours

And a few tips for pet owners:
  • Don't leave your pet out in the yard on Halloween: There are plenty of pranksters who will go out of their way to tease pets and you don’t want your dog to bite a trick-or-treater who might venture too close.
  • Trick-or-treat candy is not for pets: Chocolate is poisonous to many animals, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed by your pet.
  • Be careful your cat or dog doesn't dart out through the open door when you open it for trick or treaters.

Visit our web site at www.keysso.net for more fun information about Halloween Safety.

Two charged with grand theft from construction project

Two men were arrested as they headed out of the county with three rolls of fencing material stolen from a construction project on Card Sound Road.

A passing motorist saw a van parked on the shoulder of the roadway on State Road 905 in a construction zone at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. The motorist noticed three large rolls of construction fencing material in the back of the van and thought it was suspicious, so he stopped at Ocean Reef to report it to Ocean Reef Public Safety. Ocean Reef Public Safety in turn reported it to the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Kyle Page and Sgt. Jason Madnick stopped the van northbound on Card Sound Road. They were backed up by Deputy Greg LaRochelle. The men inside the van were identified as 39 year old Darwin Velasquez of Homestead and 22 year old Romnel Zelaya of Palm Springs, Florida.

The two suspects were separated. Deputies spoke to both of them. They both claimed to have been coming to the Keys to go fishing. They both said once they reached the Keys they realized they had forgotten their fishing equipment. Each man blamed the theft of the fencing material on the other man.

Tags found on the rolls of fencing matched those on fencing material found at the construction site. Both men were arrested and charged with grand theft. They were booked into jail.

October 21, 2014

Two men charged with strong armed robbery

Two men, drinking with a third man were arrested after they attacked him, beat him and robbed him.

The three men were at a trailer on Maloney Avenue drinking together. The victim said 23 year old Robert Morejon and 28 year old William Meeks objected to the tone of voice with which the victim was talking to them. Morejon reportedly got up and began to hit the victim in the head, then choked him. Meeks joined in the beating. The two then took cash from the victim’s pockets before he said he was able to escape from the residence.

The victim said he walked down Maloney Avenue to an apartment complex where he began knocking on doors for help. Residents of the apartment complex called the Sheriff’s Office to report him as a suspicious person. Deputies Ian Cooper and Josh Gordon responded and found the victim covered in blood with cuts and bruises all over his face and head.

Morejon and Meeks were found still at the trailer where the attack took place. They were arrested, charged with strong armed robbery and battery. Meeks resisted deputy’s attempts to place him into custody so he was also charged with resisting arrest.


Miami man repeatedly arrested for lobster violations, faces high bond

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra with illegally caught tails


A Miami man was arrested Saturday, charged with having undersized wrung lobster tails. The man has been arrested multiple times over the past few years on the same type of violations.

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra was on patrol at 4 a.m. near Fiesta Key Marina on the bayside when he spotted a white Carolina skiff with one male occupant. The man appeared to be pulling traps, then wringing lobster tails and placing them into a mesh bag. As the deputy watched, the man threw two bags full of wrung tails onto the shoreline from his boat, then returned to the bay where he continued pulling traps.

At 6 a.m., Deputy Guerra watched the man repeat the process of pulling up to shore, wringing tails and throwing bags of tails onto the shore.

Deputy Guerra measures undersized lobster tails
The man – identified as 59 year old Jorge Vargas of Miami – then drove his vessel to the marina and docked it. He got into a black Ford Ranger truck and drove to the shoreline to pick up the bags of lobster. At that point, Deputy Guerra confronted him.

Vargas was caught with 267 wrung tails. Out of those, 246 were undersized. He was cited for possession of undersized lobster, possession of over the limit lobster and possession of wrung lobster tails. Vargas was booked into jail on the charges.

A records check revealed Vargas had been cited two times before during the past three years in the Florida Keys; those previous cases also involved possession of over 300 wrung tails and with possessing stone crab out of season.

While Vargas was being held in jail, a warrant was issued for him Monday for failure to appear in court for one of the previous cases from 2011. The judge set bond on the warrant at $1.4 million. 

October 17, 2014

Search warrants lead to drug arrests

A search warrant on Stock Island led to an arrest on drug charges Thursday.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit and from Lower Keys Criminal Investigations served the warrant Thursday morning at 50 12th Avenue. 23 year old Michael McIntosh was arrested after detectives found Alprazolam pills in his bedroom for which he did not have a prescription. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance and he was booked into jail.

A second search warrant was served at 28177 Julia Avenue on Little Torch Key Thursday evening by Special Investigations detectives and the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.

In the pocket of one resident, 23 year old Max Sanchez, detectives found 7.9 grams of heroin. They also found seven plastic bags of cocaine  and another 7.4 grams of heroin in a bedroom. All the Heroin found was in pill form – a total of 158 pills of the illegal substance were recovered. Numerous items of drug paraphernalia were also found in the house, along with a small amount of marijuana, $739 in cash and 26 rounds of 12 gauge shotgun ammunition.

A check on Sanchez revealed he is a convicted felon who had failed to register as required by state law. He was arrested. He was charged with trafficking in heroin, possession of  cocaine with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and failing to register as a convicted felon. He was booked into jail.

Marathon woman falls victim to scam

A Marathon woman is out $2,000 after falling victim to a scam.

The victim told Deputy Matthew O’Neill she received a call from someone who said he was her grandson. He said he’d been in an accident and his car had been impounded. He told her he needed $2,000  to get his vehicle back. He instructed her to obtain four green dot cash cards and to call him back.

She purchased the cards and then received a second call from someone identifying themselves as a “Officer Foley” from the Arcadia Police Department. He asked her for the green dot card numbers to cash the cards. After she gave him the numbers, he told her to go get an additional $2,000 worth of cards.

At that point she became suspicious and called the Arcadia Police Department. They told her they had no “Officer Foley” working for them. She then called her grandson who told her he’d not been involved in an accident. She checked the card balances and they had been emptied of their value.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that there are many similar scams being used by criminals. If you receive a phone call from anyone asking you to pay them using gift cards, cash cards, or demanding that you wire money somewhere you should immediately suspect a scam and call the Sheriff’s Office. If a person is claiming a relative is in trouble, is being held in lieu of money, or has been in an accident, we can help you to check into the claim. There is always time to make phone calls and verify information before you make such an expensive mistake.

October 16, 2014

Tip from Monroe County leads to chop shop bust in Hendry County

Sheriff’s detectives from Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were instrumental in providing information which led to the bust of a chop shop in Hendry County. The chop shop was found to have stolen property from at least five different Florida jurisdictions including a stolen truck and possibly a stolen vessel and trailer from Monroe County.

Detectives Francisco Gaete and Ian Barnett were assigned to investigate the stolen vehicle cases. During the course of their investigation, they received a tip the property could be found at a location on Pioneer 16th Street in Hendry County. The tip came from one of the Monroe County victims, who spotted a distinctive custom made aluminum fuel tank on Craig’s list. The fuel tank was installed in the bed of his truck, which had been stolen from his home in Key Largo between the night of October 5th and the morning of the 6th. The victim had a friend call the contact number on Craig’s list and the friend was told where the tank was being stored, at the Pioneer 16th Street location. The detectives called Hendry County Sheriff’s Office and relayed the information to them.

Investigators from Hendry County went to that location on Tuesday and contacted two men who allowed them onto the property. Investigators found tools, vehicle parts and other property. Numerous stolen ATVs, boats, trailers and automobiles were recovered during the investigation. The property had been stolen from various jurisdictions including Monroe County, Miami Dade, Broward County, Pembroke Pines and Hillsborough County.

The two men were arrested. 49 year old Mitchell Wayne Everett of Hendry County and 49 year old Ernesto Gutierrez Garcia of Hialeah were both charged in connection with the case. Charges from Monroe County and the other jurisdictions will likely follow.

For more details about this case, contact the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office.

Here are a couple of links to stories in the media about this case:






October 13, 2014

Power outage tomorrow morning Middle Keys

There will be a planned power outage Tuesday morning between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. in the Middle Keys between Vaca Cut and Conch Key. Please pass this information along to all your friends so no one will be surprised when it takes place. I'm sure there will be more information coming from Florida Keys Electric Coop. When I get any more info I will share it here on Facebook.

Woman charged with burglary

A Marathon woman was arrested for burglarizing her ex-boyfriend’s residence.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office at 7:30 p.m. Friday after he returned home Friday to discover his gold chain gone. When he called his ex-girlfriend, 49 year old Sherry Thilmont about it, she told him she had been in his Layton residence earlier in the day. She said she took a nap in his bed and took his gold chain.

Two neighbors told Deputy Deanna Torres they saw Thilmont’s car at the residence for about an hour earlier in the day.

Thilmont was arrested by Sgt. Chuck Kellenberger at a Marathon bar. She still had the stolen chain, which was returned to the owner. She was charged with burglary and grand theft and she was booked into jail.

Scammers strike again

The Sheriff’s Office took a report of a local business owner who lost money to a scammer.

It is a scam which the Sheriff’s Office and Keys Energy Services have talked about many times in the recent past. The victim owns a business on Ramrod Key. She received a call Friday afternoon from someone claiming to be from Keys Energy Services. The caller said she hadn’t paid her electric bill and  there was a crew on the way to turn off her power. He told her the only way to keep the power on was to pay the balance of the bill with a cash card.

The victim bought a cash card for the balance he said she owed. She then called him and gave him the confirmation number from the card so he would be able to access the money. After she got off the phone with the scammer, she called Keys Energy Services to check with them. They told her she’d been the victim of a scam.

Nude man arrested in Marathon

A man dancing nude on the side of the highway in Marathon was arrested Sunday evening.

The reporting person said he saw 60 year old Marino Sanchez at the entrance to the Marathon Government Center just before 6 p.m. Sunday. Sanchez was nude, and was dancing around. When Deputies Danielle Malone and Anthony Anderson arrived, Sanchez was no longer in that location. He was found in a nearby wooded area, still unclothed.

Sanchez was arrested. He was charged with indecent exposure and he was taken to jail where he received inmate clothing compliments of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Corrections.

Search warrant leads to drug arrest

A Stock Island man was arrested Friday after a search warrant at his Roberta Street home turned up cocaine, marijuana and alprazolam.

The search warrant was served Friday at 1:30 p.m. at 15 Roberta Street. 67 year old Pedro Torres was at home at the time the warrant was served. Inside the home, officers found marijuana and cocaine in several different areas. They also found many items of drug paraphernalia. In an unlabeled pill bottle they found 38 alprazolam pills which Torres did not have a prescription for.

Torres was arrested. He was charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with trafficking in a controlled substance.

The warrant was served by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office HIDTA detectives, Homeland Security Investigations, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Key West Police Special Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Man arrested for stealing car

A Key West man was charged with stealing a car from a Sugarloaf Key man on Thursday.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday to report his 2006 BMW had been stolen along with the keys to his residence on Sugarloaf Key. He told Deputy Kim Trullender 20 year old Kristaps Klipe of Key West had stayed at his house the night of the 8th. He said he knows Klipe because they work together at a Key West guest house. He said when he woke up, his car and his keys were both gone.

A notice to be on the lookout for the car was issued. At 9 a.m. Thursday, Detective Dave Chavka was notified by Key West Police that the suspect was arrested in Key West for stealing another car – also a BMW. Klipe was in KWPD custody at the Publix Supermarket and had the Sugarloaf Key victim’s keys in his pocket, minus the car key.

The stolen 2006 BMW was found in the parking lot of the Circle K convenience store on North Roosevelt Boulevard and Kennedy Drive. The key was in it and the gas tank was empty.

Klipe was booked into jail on charges relating to the Key West Police case. He was also charged with grand theft of the vehicle from Sugarloaf Key.

October 10, 2014

Detectives release identity of man found dead near sailboat

Detectives are releasing the identity of the man found dead last Friday near his boat at the Marathon City Marina. They say an autopsy indicates there was no foul play involved in his death and that the death appears to be natural.

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo said he has exhausted all leads in finding the next of kin for the dead man, 64 year old Bruce Stuart. He is hoping someone has information which might help him notify Stuart’s family of his death. Detective Cuervo can be reached at 305-293-7475 or mcuervo@keysso.net.


Stuart’s friends called the Sheriff’s Office after they pulled him from the water and began performing CPR at 11:20 p.m. Friday. They told Deputy Rosary Ponce the victim had been drinking with them since the afternoon. One friend said she took him back to his boat at 10:30 p.m. and left him sitting on board. She said she and another friend went back to check on him about half an hour later and he wasn’t on the boat. That is when she saw him in the water. She pulled him onto the boat and started CPR and called for help. Stuart was pronounced dead by paramedics who responded to the scene.