September 12, 2013

Stolen vessel recovered; two arrested

A boat, stolen from a Marathon residence was recovered after a chase with Customs and Border Enforcement. It was equipped for a migrant smuggling operation. Two Las Vegas men were arrested.

The boat – a 26 foot Robalo valued at $65,000 – was taken sometime between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 2 a.m. Wednesday from a home on Sombrero Boulevard. When the owner realized it was gone at 2 a.m., he called the Sheriff’s Office.

A  CBP boat was on patrol offshore of Marathon as part of an extra patrol due to recent vessel thefts in the area. It had a Monroe County HIDTA / Sheriff’s detective on board along with the CBP agents operating the vessel.

They spotted a vessel on the ocean side of Boot Key and attempted to stop it. The vessel they attempted to stop turned out to be the one stolen from Sombrero Boulevard. It  refused to stop, taking evasive measures. At one point, the vessel rammed the CBP vessel causing a crack in the stolen vessel which then began taking on water.

The vessel was finally stopped. Two men were on board. The vessel was equipped with several large drums filled with gasoline.

Ledian Yusnier Acosta-Gonzalez and Dioselis Fuentes-Nodarse both of Las Vegas, Nevada were taken into custody. They said they took the boat, loaded it with gas, food and water with the intention of going to Cuba. They said they were planning to illegally smuggle five Cubans into the United States.

They said the fled from CBP intending to beach the vessel and flee on foot.

Both men were charged with grand theft with property damage and a health and safety law violation for having the gasoline on the vessel. Acosta-Gonzalez was additionally charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing police in a boat and criminal mischief.

The special patrol was originally set up because alert citizens in the vicinity of Sombrero Boulevard had reported suspicious people and activity in their neighborhood.  The patrol involved the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Unit, Sheriff’s Office road patrol, Monroe HIDTA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Alert neighbors are a crucial part of the law enforcement equation. Remember to call the Sheriff’s Office if you see any unknown person or vehicle in your neighborhood.  Anyone with additional information is encouraged to call Detective Trevor Wirth or if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-346 TIPS.

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