Islamorada – Two Miami men were taken to jail Sunday, after a Sheriff’s Office marine officer caught them robbing traps offshore of Lower Matecumbe Key.
Deputy Nelson Sanchez was on patrol on the water at 3:40 p.m. when he spotted the two men diving near a power pole without a dive flag. As he drove closer to them, they spotted him and began acting nervously.
Deputy Sanchez spotted a a couple of traps near where the men were diving, and saw a white bag on the bottom near the traps. When he pulled the bag to the surface with his boat hook, he saw small lobster tails inside.
An Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer arrived as back up. As Deputy Sanchez kept an eye on the two men, the FWC officer jumped in the water and saw clear hand prints in the thick silt covering the traps, indicating someone had been recently tampering with them.
The men at first claimed they’d gotten the tails from the base of the power pole. When Deputy Sanchez asked them if they’d “at least closed the trap” after taking the lobster, one of the men assured the deputy he had closed the trap after removing the lobster from it.
Both men were arrested. 25 year old Alejandro Chao-Garcia and 41 year old Hugo Diaz-Gallardo were both charged with possessing undersized lobster and possession of wrung tails on the water. Garcia was further charged with tampering with evidence for dropping the bag as the officer approached. Gallardo was further charged with molesting traps after he admitted to taking the lobster from the traps.