April 30, 2013

Detective receives top honor

In the photo, left to right: Governor Rick Scott,
Detective Cuervo, Attorney General Pam Bondi
and Sheriff Rick Ramsay.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Detective Manuel Cuervo, a member of the Major Crimes Unit, accepted a state award last week from Attorney General Pam Bondi. Detective Cuervo was named the Special Tribute Award Officer of the Year for his work on a major child pornography investigation. The award is given each year in the state’s capitol during Victim’s Rights Week.

Detective Manuel Cuervo was the main case investigator into the case of William Britt, who was arrested in November of 2012 on over 100 counts possession of child pornography.

In accepting the award, Detective Cuervo recognized all the others who worked with him on the case to bring it to a successful conclusion. He also thanked the person who brought Britt to the attention of law enforcement.

“I want to extend a personal thank you to the observant and concerned citizen who reported this crime,” Detective Cuervo said. “You are a true hero because if it hadn’t been for you, this predator would still be lurking in our school system, amongst our children.”

Sheriff Rick Ramsay was in Tallahassee to see Detective Cuervo receive the award.

“I am proud of the work done on this case by Detective Cuervo and all the members of our Major Crimes Unit,” he said. “These are tough cases to work – it is heartbreaking to see pictures of children who have been so abused. And when the suspect is someone who we trusted with our children – that makes it even harder. We will continue our efforts to remove these types of child predators from our streets and keep them from victimizing our children.”

New Smyrna man arrested for drugs

Islamorada – A New Smyrna man was arrested on drug charges after he was found to have been driving with a suspended license.

A resident of Fontaine Drive called the Sheriff’s Office to report a car was parked blocking his driveway at 8:15 a.m. Monday. When deputies arrived, they found 43 year old Steven Polak standing near his blue Volvo. They asked Polak what he was doing there and Polak said he was waiting for a friend named “Mike”. Polak gave Deputy Ray Jodlowski the spelling of his name as “Pollack”. A check of that name came back as having a license suspension in 2007.

A search of his vehicle turned up an unlabeled prescription bottle with 28 Xanax pills, 3 Klonopin pills and 3 Restoril pills inside. Cocaine was found hidden inside a cigarette pack.

Polak was arrested and taken to jail. Once at the jail, Polak spelled his name  with one “l”  for Corrections Officers who were booking him. Deputy Jodlowski overheard him and confronted him about it. The deputy asked him why he gave him a false name and Polak said “I did not think you would check”.

Polak was charged with driving with a suspended license, possession of cocaine, three counts possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and resisting arrest.

Man arrested for attacking ex-wife, boyfriend

A Key West man is under arrest, charged with breaking into his ex-wife’s residence, damaging her property then attacking her and her current boyfriend at her place of work.

50 year old George Rodriguez is accused of going to his ex-wife’s house and entering it without permission. Once inside, he took a 65 inch flat screen television and threw it over the balcony into the driveway. Witnesses say as he left the residence, he drove over the television with his truck, destroying it.

Rodriguez also confronted his ex-wife at her place of business, grabbing her by the hair and hitting her. He also confronted her current boyfriend. The two got into a fight. During their struggle, Rodriguez attempted to hit the boyfriend’s head on a metal truck bumper. An employee of the business had to pull the two apart.

Deputies responded to both the house, on Sugarloaf Key, and the business on Rockland Key. They found Rodriguez still at the business. He was placed under arrest. He was charged with aggravated assault, battery, criminal mischief and burglary. He was booked into jail.

April 29, 2013

Spenser Bryan becomes detective

Deputy Spenser Bryan became Detective Spenser Bryan this week in the Lower Keys. He was welcomed into the CIU Unit at a lunch where his father, Captain Corey Bryan, attended and presented him with his detective’s badge. His mother, Records Supervisor Peggy Bryan was also at the lunch to congratulate him.

Citizen Police Academies continue

Citizen Police academies continue county wide. In the Upper Keys, attendees learned about traffic stops this week from Traffic Enforcement Deputies Andrew Leird and Tom Hill.

Clean up under the Boca Chica Bridge

 The area underneath the Boca Chica Bridge, long an illegal shelter for local homeless folks, was cleaned up recently after a complaint about it came in to Sheriff Ramsay. Deputies Lazaro Valdes and Freddy Rodriguez coordinated with Transfield Services to clean the living quarters out and paint over the Graffiti. They had the people living there move along and advised the area is off limits from now on. Transfield Lead Maintenance Technician, Jimmie Reaves along with DOC Officer Schindler and crew assisted with this project.

Marathon sergeant talks to kids

 On Tuesday Sgt. Marc Maison spent some time showing the children at Grace Jones in Marathon his vehicle and talked to them about safety. He made them all Honorary Junior Deputies and gave them all badges and coloring books.

Clean up on Garden Cove Drive, Key Largo

 Last week, the Sheriff's Office held a clean up on Garden Cove Drive in Key Largo. A large amount of trash was removed from the area. Members of the Sheriff's Office, Firefighters and inmates from the Plantation Key Jail turned out and worked hard in honor of Earth Day.

Man found dead in dinghy is identified

A man whose body was found Friday in an inflatable dinghy offshore of Islamorada near Shell Key has been identified.

The body was found by two boaters. There was no identification found with the body and there were no signs of foul play in evidence. On Saturday evening, the manager of Dominos Pizza in Tavernier told Sgt. Mark Coleman an employee, 67 year old Robert Newbold, had not shown up for work. Newbold fit the description of the body found, and was known to live on board a sailboat anchored offshore of Islamorada.

Today, the Medical Examiner’s Office made positive identification of the body as that of Newbold. His family was notified of his death. 

This week marks 15th Anniversary of officers death

Monroe County – This week marks the 15th Anniversary of the line-of-duty death of Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Alexander.
Deputy Alexander died in a traffic accident May 3rd, 1998 while working road patrol for the Sheriff's Office in the Key Largo district.
He had just left roll call at the Plantation Key Substation and was en route to his duty station at the Ocean Reef Resort. For some reason, he pulled off of the highway and onto Val Jean Way, in Tavernier. He was stopped at a stop sign at Val Jean Way and Highway U.S. One when he pulled out into the path on an oncoming semi tractor trailer truck, and was broad sided on the driver’s side of his vehicle by the truck.
 Firefighters work frantically to free Deputy Alexander
from the wreckage the night of the crash.
Photo credit: Photographer Bill Rigby.
Deputy Alexander had worked for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for just less than a year. He’d previously worked for the Miami-Dade Police Department for 16 years, leaving that department as a lieutenant. He worked for the Sheriff’s Office on the midnight shift as a deputy at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. He was also on the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

Members of the Sheriff’s Office and others who
knew Deputy Alexander set up a roadside
 memorial for him. 
Photo credit: Photographer Bill Rigby.

The roadside memorial for Deputy Michael Alexander.Photo credit: Photographer Bill Rigby.

Three homes destroyed, others damaged in Key Largo fire

Key Largo – A residential fire on Garden State Lane in Key Largo destroyed three homes and damaged others Sunday.

The fire appears to have started just after 1:30 p.m. at 716 Garden State Lane. It quickly spread to homes on either side, at 714 and 718. Other homes in the area sustained heat and smoke damage as well. Deputy E.B. Askins was first on the scene and checked surrounding structures to make sure no one was inside.

Firefighters responded from Key Largo, Tavernier, Ocean reef and Miami-Dade County. A boat from Sea Tow in Key Largo also worked the fire, spraying canal water on docked boats and other structures behind the homes.

None of the destroyed homes were occupied at the time of the fires. All the homes were second homes, but all of the owners did respond to the scene. The fires were extinguished by 5 p.m.

The Fire Marshall’s office will be investigating the cause of the  fire.

Fire at Fiesta Key KOA

Fire broke out in a small wooden building at near the marina at Fiesta Key KOA at the 70 mile marker of the highway early Sunday.

A man staying on a vessel at the campground marina told Deputy Chuck Kellenberger he noticed smoke coming from the structure at the marina and called to report it at 5:40 a.m. The structure houses a Kite board rental business, a Laundromat and a storage area.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze with the most damage occurring to the storage room and the kite boarding business.

The Fire Marshall’s Office will be investigating the cause of the fire.

April 27, 2013

Woman charged with burglary

A Rockland Key woman was charged with burglary after she entered another woman’s home without permission and attacked her.

The victim said she was in her laundry room in her Rockland Key home at 9:30 a.m. Friday when Magalys Gelys walked in, uninvited. She slapped the victim in the face and told her to stay away from her husband.

When the victim’s 3 year old daughter tried to intervene, Gelys allegedly pushed her away, into a wall. She then threatened the victim, telling her she was going to report her to “Immigration” and have her deported and she would never see her daughter again.

When Deputy Lazaro Valdes arrived, the victim had a swollen red face allegedly from being slapped and the child was scared and crying.

The suspect was found nearby at her place of work and was arrested. She was charged with burglary with battery on the occupant and she was booked into jail.

Man found dead in dinghy offshore

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the death of a man found in an inflatable dinghy offshore of Islamorada.

Detectives say there were no obvious signs of foul play found on the body. Two people on a flats boat in the vicinity of Shell Key found him at noon on Friday and called the Sheriff’s Office.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded and brought the dinghy and it’s occupant back to shore. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death. He had no identification, and detectives do not yet know who he is. He is described as a white male, approximately 5’10” tall, 180 pounds.

April 26, 2013

Search warrant in Marathon

Marathon - Sheriff's Special Investigations detectives served a search warrant this afternoon at a Marathon residence.

The warrant was served at 1337 Ocean Breeze Blvd, Lot 33 in Marathon. Detectives located two men, 26 year old Hiram Cancel and 21 year old Oscar R. Gamez-Cardoma, in the front patio area of the trailer. 

The search of the trailer turned up 20 prepackaged plastic bags containing a total of eight grams of cocaine. During the time detectives were searching the trailer, Gamez-Cardoma, a resident of Guatemala, attempted to escape. He was detained and take to the Customs and Border Protection station to be processed. Also during the search, Cancel, who was handcuffed, ran down the street to lot 47. When Cancel was captured, detectives noticed two marijuana plant growing at lot 47 behind the trailer. The owner of the property 30 year old Justo Angel Morera Cabrera was arrested for cultivation of marijuana.

Cancel was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting without violence.

Gamez-Cardoma was turned over to Customs and Border Protection for remaining in the United States without proper documentation.

Morera Cabrera was charged with cultivation of marijuana.

RV burned on Rockland Key

Rockland Key – A small recreational vehicle parked at 529 Park Drive on Rockland Key caught fire in the early morning hours today.

The fire was reported to Sheriff’s dispatchers at 4:05 a.m. A neighbor called to report seeing flames. She said her husband was checking to see if anyone was inside.

Deputies and firefighters arrived a short time later and learned the trailer was just used for storage and no one was inside. Firefighters reported the fire was knocked down by 4:22 a.m. The fire marshals office will be investigating the cause of the fire.

April 25, 2013

Detectives investigating four business burglaries

Islamorada – Sheriff’s detectives are investigating four business burglaries in the Islamorada area which they believe to be connected due to similarities in the crimes.

The burglaries took place between March 4th and April 22nd, all in the area between the 80 and the 88.5 mile markers of highway U.S. One. During that time period, suspects used force to enter the businesses, and took computer equipment from inside each one.

The businesses included Blue Water Weddings, Miss Monroe Boutique, Island Flash Bead Design and Edward Jones Investments.

Surveillance cameras inside one of the businesses captured photos of  a person believed to be the suspect in these crimes.

Anyone with information about these cases should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip called in to Crime Stoppers leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.

April 24, 2013

Detectives investigate vehicle burglaries, burglary to marina on Stock Island

Deputies responded to reports yesterday of four vehicle burglaries on Stock Island, in the Key Haven neighborhood as well as a burglary report at Murray Marine in the same area.

Vehicle owners called Tuesday morning to report someone had rummaged through their cars overnight, taking small items including cash and phone chargers.

The owner of Murray Marine reported someone had entered the main building at the Marina and had cut padlocks off of storage lockers used by boat captains to store their belongings. A large amount  of equipment was stolen from those lockers including many high-end rods and reels.

Detectives have been assigned to investigate.

Anyone with information about any of these cases could receive a substantial cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers. If a tip called in to Crime Stoppers leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible to receive the reward. Callers may remain anonymous. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com.

April 23, 2013

Crocodile relocated from residential neighborhood

A Crocodile was relocated from a populated residential area at the 74 mile marker this morning. The resident at 321 Tollgate Shores Drive called Sheriff’s dispatchers this morning just before 8 a.m. to report what she believed to be a female Crocodile nesting in her front yard. She said she estimated it’s size at nine feet long.

Deputies arrived and stayed on scene until experts from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission could take over and relocate the reptile. Reports from the scene were that she had laid 27 eggs.

Photos by Sheriff’s Lt. Derek Paul.

April 21, 2013

Another man charged in connection with Stock Island gun theft

 Stock Island man was charged Friday in connection with the investigation into the theft of 17 guns from a RV parked on Stock Island.

William “Billy” Ray was shown on surveillance video at his 3rd Avenue apartment with Amado Cardenas, who was arrested earlier in the week in connection with the case. Investigations revealed Cardenas brought a semi-automatic rifle to Ray’s apartment on  April 13th and left it there for a short time. Cardenas then returned that same day, retrieving and selling it and second rifle to another man. Those guns were recovered from the purchaser after he learned from  Sheriff’s detectives that they were stolen.

Ray, who has 11 felony convictions on his record and is currently on probation was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was booked into jail.

Traffic stop leads to drug charges

Key Largo – A traffic stop early today led to the arrest of a Tavernier man on drug charges.

Deputy Pedro Garcia was at the 108 mile marker at 1:30 a.m. when he spotted a car southbound with the tag light and one tail light out. He stopped the car at the 106 mile marker.

He recognized the driver, 35 year old Luis Estevez from a previous traffic stop and knew he did not have a valid driver’s license. Estevez was arrested. He was charged with driving his  license suspended. A check of his record revealed he had six prior convictions for the same offense.

Deputy Garcia could smell the odor of marijuana in the vehicle. A search turned up a small amount of marijuana in the center console. He also found a plastic bag with 15 grams of Cocaine inside, along with a metal spoon and a syringe – items commonly used to ingest drugs.

Estevez was further charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

April 19, 2013

Seven migrants in Key Largo

Seven Cuban migrants were picked up on a small island offshore of Key Largo today around noon. They were turned over to agents from Customs and Border Protection. All seven were males and were in good health. The migrant photo is from Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Campbell. The photo of the boat is from Bobby Dube from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Seven other male Cuban migrants were handed over to CBP yesterday after arriving on shore in the vicinity of the 95.5 mile marker in Rock Harbor
yesterday at about 9 a.m.

Man arrested for making threats

A Stock Island man whose license was suspended for failing to pay child support was arrested today after saying he wanted to blow up the Child Support Enforcement offices. Key West Police and the Sheriff’s Office worked together to apprehend the man quickly and safely.

53 year old Steven Hamley was in the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on South Roosevelt Boulevard at 12:30 p.m. today. He’d learned his license was suspended the night before, during a traffic stop on Stock Island, and he’d reportedly gone to DHSMV to try to get it reinstated. While there, he was told it had been suspended for failure to pay child support. When he heard that, Hamley reportedly told the clerk he would like to blow up the Child Support Enforcement offices.

DHSMV employees told him to leave their office. He left, then returned a few minutes later and apologized for saying it. They asked him to leave again and then called Key West Police to report the threatening comment.  

Key West Police responded to an address on Flagler Avenue which their dispatch had listed as the Child Support Enforcement offices. People working there told the officers Child Support Enforcement had moved to the Florida State building in Marathon. At that point, the Sheriff’s Office was notified and deputies responded to the Florida State building  in Marathon to ensure those offices were safe.

Deputies removed employees from the building and checked it for any suspicious packages or explosives. Finding none, they allowed everyone back inside.

In the meantime, Key West Police had obtained Hamley’s identity and put it out, along with his picture, to all law enforcement officers in the county in an attempt to find him. Sheriff’s dispatchers were able to track down a cell phone number for Hamley and gave the number to Detective Sgt. Donald Catala. Sgt. Catala called Hamley on the phone and asked him if he was all right. He asked Hamley to meet him somewhere so they could talk. Hamley told Sgt. Catala he was at the intersection of Eagle Avenue and State Road A1A.

Hamley was apprehended at that intersection just 45 minutes after initially making his threatening comments. He reportedly again apologized  to officers as they arrested him. He was taken to jail by Key West Police Officer Julio Gomez. He was charged with making a bomb threat.

April 18, 2013

Sheriff’s Office organizes painting project in Marathon

In furtherance of Sheriff Rick Ramsay’s  Community Involvement initiative, the Sheriff’s Office is organizing a community beautification painting project in Marathon.

On April 25th, the Sheriff’s Office will join with Home Depot and with community volunteers to paint the walls that run along the highway adjacent to the entrances of Home Depot in Marathon. Home Depot will be supplying everything necessary to complete the project. All that is needed is willing volunteers!

Show up next Thursday, the 25th, at 8:30 a.m. and we will put a brush (or roller) in your hands!!! It will be a lot of fun, and will help the community’s appearance as well.

Anyone with questions can contact Sgt. Dennis Coleman, the organizer of the project, at (305) 797-0884

April 17, 2013

Search warrant on Stock Island

Stock Island – Sheriff’s detectives from the Special Investigations Unit arrested two people today on drug charges after serving a search warrant on a Stock Island residence.

At 6:30 a.m., detectives served the warrant at 6336 2nd Street Apt 6. Inside, detectives located 31 year old Keyonbie Humphrey and 30 year old Damien Reynard Humphrey inside the apartment. 

The search turned up a whole crack cocaine “cookie”. A “cookie” can yield up to 50 crack rocks. They also found five large pieces of crack cocaine prepackaged for sale. A total of $1,521 in suspected drug proceeds were seized for possible forfeiture.

Keyonbie Humphrey was charged with  possession of cocaine. Damien Humphrey  was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Both men were booked into jail.

Another arrest, two more guns recovered

Stock Island – Detectives continue to investigate the burglary of a recreational vehicle parked on Stock Island and the theft of guns from inside. Another arrest has been made and two more guns recovered in the case.

A total of 17 guns – handguns, rifles and shotguns – were stolen; 13 have now been recovered. On Tuesday evening, 47 year old Amado Cardenas, Jr. of Stock Island was arrested after detectives received information he’d sold two guns to another man. The man who purchased the guns agreed to cooperate with the investigation and turned the guns over to detectives. The Bushmaster assault rifle and the Colt .45 caliber rifle were positively identified as two of the stolen guns. The man said he paid $100 for the assault rifle and $50 for the other gun. He said when he asked Cardenas why the guns were so inexpensive, Cardenas told him he was selling them for a friend who needed money.

Cardenas –who has eight felony convictions on his record – was charged with two counts each of possession of two firearms by a convicted felon and dealing in stolen property.

April 16, 2013

Arrests made in connection with large number of stolen guns

A large number of guns were stolen during a burglary of a recreational vehicle parked on Stock Island. Detectives investigating the case arrested three people in connection with the crime, recovering all but five of the stolen guns.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office in the early morning hours Monday to report his guns were gone from his RV. He said he last saw them on April 10th. Investigations revealed suspects had entered the RV by breaking a rear window. In addition to the 16 stolen rifles, shotguns and handguns, suspects also took a laptop computer, a flat screen television, a cross bow and a large amount of various types of ammunition.

Multiple detectives from the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Unit and the Special Investigations Unit were called out to investigate, due to the weapons stolen and the concern that these weapons were now on the street and posed a danger to both law enforcement and members of the public. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents were also involved in the case.

During the course of the investigation, detectives learned the guns might be at a trailer at Water’s Edge Trailer park. They also received information a white Nissan may have some of the guns in it.

Using an undercover operative, guns were purchased from the trailer in Water’s Edge Trailer park from 33 year old Jermaine Roberts. Roberts was subsequently arrested and charged with eight counts possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and dealing in stolen property.

The white Nissan was stopped on Summerland Key after a detective observed it to have illegal window tinting. A K-9 then alerted on the car, indicating the presence of drugs. In the trunk, detectives found three of the stolen guns. They also found 35 plastic bags of heroin. $3,143 in cash was seized from the vehicle occupants.

19 year old Andrew Riley of Cutler Bay, Florida was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, dealing in stolen property and trafficking in heroin. Romanique Williams, 18, of Miami was charged with dealing in stolen property and trafficking in heroin.

All three people were booked into jail. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will be prosecuting this case federally. Roberts was further charged with violating his parole.

The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information about this case, or about the location of the remaining five weapons which have not yet been recovered, should call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the tipster would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be submitted anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com.

April 15, 2013

Seven Mile Bridge Run

This is a great photo of the Seven Mile Bridge Run on Saturday with an inset of Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Mimosa riding his motorcycle alongside Jon Volpi of Boca Raton as he nears the finish line to win the men's overall title. Photo credit to Andy Newman/Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

World War II era bomb recovered

An inert World War II bomb, badly corroded and with no explosives inside, was recovered from the shoreline at the end of old Boca Chica Road this weekend.

Reserve Bomb Squad Technician Bobby Randolph responded Sunday just after noon to a report that someone walking in the area had reported finding the device. He recovered it and determined it was no longer explosive. It was removed from the water and will be destroyed. 

Bicycle event to impact weekend traffic

On Saturday April 20th, and continuing on Sunday, an annual bike event is expected to cause some traffic delays in the upper Keys. Travelers should plan extra time if they are going to be driving through the Key Largo area on those days.

The event is expected to attract over 2,000 bicyclists to the upper Keys, and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for Multiple Sclerosis. Event organizers pay for officers to work the special duty detail.

The Maroone MS 150 Bike Tour causes the most traffic slow downs on Saturday, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. People will begin seeing bicyclists on Card Sound Road and in the Upper Keys around 9 a.m. on that day.

The riders travel from Miami-Dade County on Card Sound Road, then on Highway U.S. One to the 99 mile marker, at Key Largo Park. All the bikes should be at the park by 5 p.m. They leave the Keys the following Sunday morning, beginning at 6 a.m. with the last bike leaving the county no later than 3 p.m.

April 14, 2013

Two arrested for trafficking in Ecstasy

Key Largo – Suspicious activity led to the arrest of two upper Keys teens for trafficking in MDMA, also known as Ecstasy.

Deputy Matthew O’Neill was on patrol at 9:50 p.m. Saturday on Hibiscus Lane in Key Largo. He saw a blue car parked in an empty lot with two people inside. The vehicle’s lights were on and, when the deputy drove by, the vehicle’s lights abruptly turned off. To see what was going on, the deputy pulled behind the car with his overhead lights on.

When he approached the driver, he could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside. He called for backup. The driver was identified as a 16 year old male from Islamorada. The deputy recognized the passenger as 19 year old Andre Whitehead of Key Largo, someone he’d had previous contacts with. Both of them were acting very nervous, shaking and moving around in the car.

Inside the car, the deputy found a Tupperware container with a crystal substance inside, later identified as MDMA. In three other containers were empty pill capsules. Inside another container were some of the pill capsules filled with the same crystal substance. A small amount of marijuana was also found.

Whitehead denied knowing about the substance, even though it was in the front seat, adjacent to where he was sitting. The 16 year old admitted he’d gotten the ecstasy from someone in North Miami Beach and intended to sell them for $15 a pill.

Both were arrested and charged with trafficking in MDMA and possession of drug paraphernalia. Whitehead was booked into jail and the 16 year old was detained by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

April 12, 2013

Safety day for kids

The Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol held a Neighborhood Watch and police safety briefing for children at Flagler Village on Stock Island this past Saturday.

Deputy Scott Ward held a Junior Deputy swearing in ceremony and talked to kids about stranger danger, traffic safety, suspicious people, drug awareness and crime prevention, among other topics.

Graffiti painted out in Key Largo

Detectives Francisco Gaete, Yunier Galvez and Patrick Crozier worked with Markey Marine owner Dave Olmstead to cover up graffiti on a fence on his property this week.

Citizen Police Academy

 Sheriff's Office Citizen Police Academies got started in the Lower, Middle and Upper Keys with an orientation class, giving an overview of Sheriff’s Office operations. Top left, Deputy Scott Ward showed off his refurbished All Terrain Vehicle, which District One will be using to patrol difficult to reach areas. Top right, Traffic Deputy John McGee was on hand to talk about traffic enforcement and Sheriff Ramsay spoke to all three groups, welcoming them to the Sheriff’s Office and thanking them for their attendance.

Jail inspections this week

 Major Tommy Taylor completed one of his regular and detailed inspections at Sheriff's Office jail facilities this week, declaring them all to be in great shape, with only a few areas needing improvement. Here he is inspecting the Marathon facility, looking for dust.

Drug take back program with Walgreens

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo worked with folks from Walgreens recently at a Drug Take Back day in Marathon recently. The goal was to get old and outdated medications out of people’s cupboards and cabinets and disposed of properly.

The Sheriff's Office maintains drop boxes at it's various substations and at the headquarters building on Stock Island and will come pick up any medications if you call.

In the photo, left to right, Ed Forbes, Director of Loss Prevention and Marketing, Patty Philcox, Walgreen’s Manager, Detective Manny Cuervo, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Rick Gonzalez, District Loss Prevention Manager, Allison Zettwoch, Pharmacist.

Sheriff's Office attends job fair

The Sheriff's Human Resources Division had a booth set up at a recent job fair at Florida Keys Community College. They talked with kids interested in employment with the Sheriff’s Office. Pictured is HRD Specialists Suzanne Alexander and Charles Slebodnik with event attendees.

Key Largo clean up

District 7 will be conducting a street side clean up of Garden Cove Dr.  Monday 04/22/13 at 0900 hours (9am) meeting at the corner of Garden Cove Dr. and US1. This area is part State Park and Part County Property.  I encourage participation and anyone interested in joining us please feel free and contact me by e-mail so I have a count. Gloves and trash bags will be provided.

Two teens arrested for shooting incident

Stock Island – Two Stock Island teens are under arrest, charged with lying to police and tampering with evidence in connection with a fight which resulted in one of them being shot in the hand.

Deputies responded to 6500 Maloney Avenue, Trailer #31 at 4:45 p.m. Thursday to reports of a fight involving a firearm and possible shots fired. When they arrived, they found four young men at the trailer. One of them – 19 year old Kentrell Freeman - was bleeding from what turned out to be a gunshot wound to his left hand.

At first, Freeman told deputies he was walking his dog when he had a confrontation with a Hispanic man. He said he fought with the man and the man pulled out a gun. He said the gun went off, injuring his hand. The man then reportedly fled.

As more deputies and detectives arrived to assist, they began searching the area for the Hispanic attacker, going house to house concerned he might hurt someone else.

In the meantime, Detective David Cruz continued talking with the men originally found at the trailer. Others searched the area for the gun. A blood trail was found from the front of the trailer to the back yard. At the end of the blood trail they found then handgun which injured Freeman.

A witness was located who had videotaped the fight when the shooting occurred. The video showed Freeman fighting with one of the other men who were at the trailer when deputies showed up – 19 year old Trevon Albury. Albury is also Freeman’s cousin. At that point, Albury was detained and was confronted with the information in the videotape.

Albury admitted to fighting with Freeman. He said he saw the gun on the ground while they were fighting, tried to grab it and it went off, injuring Freeman. After Freeman was discharged from the hospital, he also was confronted with the information detectives had obtained. He said he and Albury were fighting over a girl. He said he saw the gun on the ground and picked it up. He said the two of them fell to the ground while fighting and the gun went off, shooting him in the hand. When asked why he didn’t tell the truth at the beginning, he replied “because I am young and dumb.”

Both men were arrested. Both were charged with obstructing a criminal investigation and tampering with evidence. Freeman was additionally charged with improper exhibition of a firearm and discharging a firearm in public. They were both booked into jail.

Traffic stop leads to drug arrest

*****The record of this arrest has been expunged*****

April 11, 2013

Military flare made safe by Sheriff’s Bomb Squad

A military flare brought in to shore on a dive boat was made safe by the Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad.

Reserve Deputy and Bomb Squad Technician Bobby Randolph responded to 100 Ocean Drive after Horizon Divers reported they’d found a big silver tubular device which looked like some kind of ordinance. They said it was floating in the water offshore of Key Largo and one of the divers on the boat had brought it onto the vessel. They transported it to shore and called the Sheriff’s Office at 10:45 a.m.

Once the Sheriff’s Office arrived, deputies evacuated the building and closed Ocean Drive as a precaution. The Bomb Squad responded and safely took custody of the device, which was a live military flare. Ocean Drive was reopened at 2:15 p.m.

Anyone who finds such an item in the water should take down coordinates and call to report its location. Such devices are not safe to handle without special training, so they should not be brought on board a boat and should not be transported to shore.

Detectives arrest FKCC students for marijuana

At the request of college administrators, detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit conducted a K-9 search at the Florida Keys Community College on Stock Island Thursday morning.

As a result of the search, one student was arrested after the dog found drugs in his room. A second student was issued a notice to appear in court for possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Detectives, along with K-9 Deja searched dorm rooms on the campus. Deja alerted on Suite 310, which has four occupants with individual rooms. As they began searching the rooms, detectives located a prescription bottle with the name Alexandro Miguel Colon on it. Inside was three grams of marijuana. 18 year old Colon was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana on school grounds. 

Detectives continued their operation. Deja alerted on Suite 202, which also has four individual rooms. They knocked on the door of a room belonging to  Michelle Rae Lachance. Initially, no one answered the door.  After repeatedly knocking on the door, detectives entered the room. K-9 Deja located two pipes that contained marijuana residue. La chance was issued a notice to appear in court for being in  possession of drug paraphernalia on school grounds. Detectives and an FKCC maintenance person were monitoring the sewer outlet from the dorm rooms. During the search, a bag of marijuana was flushed into the sewer. 
Investigations into the origins of that marijuana are continuing.

Law Enforcement Torch Run April 19th

Monroe County - Representatives from various local law enforcement agencies will be taking part April 19th in the 2013 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office in cooperation with the Monroe County Special Olympics Committee, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Key West Police Department, the US Navy, US Coast Guard and the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission  invites members of the public to join local law enforcement in running in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run which will start at 9:00 a.m., Friday,  April 19th.

The Key West leg will begin at the Florida Keys Community College Public Safety Bldg on Stock Island with a brief stop at Gerald Adams Elementary School.   Participants will then run to the Sheriff’s Office headquarters building on Stock Island for a brief stop, and then on to the new Publix on N. Roosevelt Boulevard.   Publix is a major contributor to the Special Olympics, raising millions of dollars each year for the cause.  Then off to Poinciana School, Key West High School, HOB School and Glenn Archer School.  An exchange of the torch from the Sheriff’s Office to the Key West Police Department will take place at the Southernmost Point where Sheriff Rick Ramsay will be handing off the torch to Chief Donie Lee.   There will be water stops at all the schools and the run pace will be slow (no faster than 10 minute miles).    Runners can run any leg they choose.   Support vehicles will accompany the runners and will be available for those who need a rest.

Those wishing to participate may register for the run by contacting either Jim Painter at (305) 292-7027 / email jpainter@keysso.net or Special Agent Jeff Hutcheon at (305) 292-7022 / email JeffHutcheon@fdle.state.fl.us or Jo Socha at (305) 292-7042 / email jsocha@keysso.net .

The torch will travel across the state, carried by Law Enforcement personnel.  For more information on the representing agencies go to:

Please come join us in this special event. If you can't join the run, please come out and cheer the runners on for a good cause.

Note: in the past, parents have become concerned because they have received reports about fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency service vehicles present at the schools along the Torch Run route. These vehicles accompany the runners for visibility and because the kids love to see them. They should in no way cause concern by their presence at the schools.

April 10, 2013

Get In Stride and Stay Safe: Safety Tips for Runners and Walkers

In the Florida Keys, the year round sunny weather allows for year round outside exercise. Each year more and more people take up running and walking because it is a quick, inexpensive way to stay fit. If you travel often, running or walking is an excellent way to maintain your exercise regimen. Here are few pointers to help you keep safe when you hit the road.

Before You Leave
Plan your outing. Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Tell friends and family of your favorite exercise routes.

  • If possible, take a phone with you in case you need to call for help.
  • Wear an identification tag or carry a driver's license. If you don't have a place to carry your ID, write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside of your athletic shoe. Include any medical information.
  • Don't wear jewelry or carry cash.
  • Wear reflective material.
  • Carry a personnel protection device. In Florida, it is legal to carry a self-defense chemical spray or a "nonlethal stun gun or dart-firing stun gun or other nonlethal electric weapon or device that is designed solely for defensive purposes." (Florida Statute 790.01 - Carrying concealed weapons.)

On the Road

  • Tell a family member or friend where you are going and the time you expect to be back.
  • Stay alert at all times. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
  • Run or walk with a partner or a dog.
  • Don't wear headsets. If you wear them you won't hear an approaching car or attacker. Listen to your surroundings.
  • Consider carrying a cellular phone.
  • Exercise in familiar areas. Know which businesses or stores are open.
  • Vary your route.
  • Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Especially avoid poorly lighted areas at night.
  • Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
  • Ignore verbal harassment. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
  • Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles.
  • Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React based on that intuition and avoid areas you feel unsure about.
  • Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions—if you answer, keep at least a full arm's length from the car.
  • If you think you are being followed, change direction and head for open stores, theaters, or a lighted house.
  • Have your door key ready before you reach your home.
  • Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is also a good idea to check with police about any criminal activity in the area you plan to run or walk.
  • Stay Alert.
  • Sometimes runners and walkers get lulled into a "zone" where they are so focused on their exercise they lose track of what's going on around them. This state can make runners and walkers more vulnerable to attacks. Walk and run with confidence and purpose.

Running and Walking in the Evening or Early Morning

OK, so you missed the opportunity to exercise during the light of day, but you still want to get in a quick three miles before turning in for the night or before the sun rises. The best advice when exercising while it's dark is to get off the streets and head to the security of a well-lighted outdoor track or consider running on an indoor track or tread mill. If you are a walker, consider laps around an indoor shopping mall. If these options are not available or just aren't for you, consider these tips before heading out:

  • Make sure people can see you: Think about where you are going and how well lighted it may or may not be. Going out at dusk or at night is dangerous without some type of reflective device on your clothing. Many athletic shoes have reflective qualities built in, but also consider a vest complete with reflective tape.
  • Watch the road: Wet or icy spots are considerably harder to see in the dark.
  • Keep alert. Dawn and dusk offer convenient shadows for muggers and other crooks.

Away From Home

Many people have taken up running and walking so that they will be able to exercise when they are traveling. Remember just because you are away from home doesn't mean you can let your guard down when you exercise.

  • Check with the hotel staff or concierge to find safe routes for exercise. If there is not an acceptable place to exercise outdoors, see if the hotel can arrange access to a health club or gym.
  • Become familiar with your exercise course before you start. Get a map and study it.
  • Remember the street address of the hotel. Carry a card with your hotel address along with your personal ID.
  • Leave your room key with the front desk.
  • Follow your usual safety rules.

April 9, 2013

Islamorada event may cause traffic delays

A two day event scheduled for this weekend in Islamorada may cause some traffic delays in the vicinity of the 86 mile marker of U.S. One. Travelers should plan accordingly.

Captain Corey Bryan says he expects some traffic delays due to Island Fest Saturday and Sunday. “We will have officers in the area to keep traffic moving as much as possible,” he said. “But people should still plan some extra time if they are planning to travel through the area.”

The event goes from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day.

Community clean up, Key Largo

The Sheriff’s Office will be hosting a Community Clean up in the Upper Keys on April 22nd.

The clean up will be on Garden Cove Drive Monday, April 22nd at 9 a.m. Participants can meet on the corner of U.S. One and Garden Cove Drive. If you plan to help out at the clean up, please email Upper Keys Captain Donnie Fanelli at dfanelli@keysso.net so he knows how many people to expect.

Gloves and trash bags will be provided.

Don’t forget Bridge Run this Saturday

The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone about the 7 Mile Bridge run coming up this Saturday.

Those planning to travel through that area on Saturday morning need to plan carefully. The bridge will close at 6:45 a.m. sharp and will not reopen until 9 a.m. There will be no exceptions made. If you are not across the bridge prior to 6:45 a.m., you will not be allowed to continue your trip until after the 9 a.m. opening.

“Give yourself plenty of extra time to make it across the bridge,” said Lower Keys Captain Gene Thompson. “Every year, we end up with people who don’t make it in time. We feel badly for those whose plans are interrupted, but there is always plenty of notice about the bridge run and, once we close it, we cannot allow anyone else to cross.”

National Telecommunicators Week

April 14th to the 20th is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week and during that week, the Sheriff’s Office will be recognizing the diligence and professionalism of our Telecommunicators – Sheriff’s dispatchers - who serve in our communications center in Marathon. We would like to encourage others to recognize them as well. Our dispatchers are the first ones to get emergency calls and what they do with those calls can often greatly influence the outcome. The pressure and stress of the job is high, and the hard work they do every day deserves thanks from all of us.

Since 1968 – 44 years ago -  9-1-1 has served as the vital link between the American public and emergency services, and it is with great pride that our highly skilled Public Safety Dispatchers who have contributed substantially to the apprehension of criminals, suppression of fires, and treatment of patients be recognized for their efforts.

“Our dispatchers are a crucial part in our efforts to keep this community safe,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “They talk with people in crisis on a regular basis; they keep track of our deputies and detectives and make sure they are safe; and they do it all so well that we sometimes take them for granted. This special week is a time for us all to remember how hard they work, and how much they do,” he said.

Public Safety Agencies nationwide take one week a year - the second full week in April - to recognize the pivotal role played by telecommunicators, dispatchers, communications operators, radio control personnel - ALL those people, by whatever job title, who utilize telephones, radios, computers and technical skill to provide support to Law Enforcement, Fire Services, Emergency Medical Services and other governmental field personnel. Each year, National Telecommunicators Week is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. In 1991, Congress proclaimed it as a special national week of recognition.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office would like everyone to take a little time to think about the crucial role played by our Sheriff's Office Communications Officers. They handle thousands of phone calls, dispatch deputies, firefighters and paramedics, and do their utmost to keep the public safe as they perform one of the most stressful positions in law enforcement. 

Anyone who wishes to do something to recognize these hard working individuals can email Lt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff at csprinkle@keysso.net.

In honor of these dedicated men and women, here is a review of the rules to follow when you call 911 to report a crime or emergency:

The 911 System

911 is an emergency response service provided by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to assist the citizens of our county with receiving law enforcement, fire, and ambulance service during times of crisis. Sheriff’s Office Communications Officers answer special emergency phone lines 24 hours a day so the citizens of Monroe County may receive help as expeditiously as possible. The Sheriff's Office answers these emergency phone lines for Monroe County, the cities of Marathon, Islamorada and Key Colony Beach as well as for Firefighters and ambulances county wide.

At the same time as they answer 911 calls, Sheriff' s Office Communications Officers also answer non- emergency calls on regular phone lines. Obviously, someone in a crisis situation will get assistance prior to someone calling with a non-emergency situation.

When Should You call 911?

911 Emergency calls should be made only in cases such as a crime in progress, such as a fire, a medical emergency, or a similar immediately threatening case. A possible 911 situation can involve something you see - a burglar breaking in to a neighbor’s house, a fire, an automobile accident. It can also involve what you hear - a woman screaming or yelling "Don’t hit me again," gunfire, an explosion or glass breaking. Also, a reckless or suspected drunk driver is always a 911 call. They’re potential killers not only of themselves, but of innocent bystanders as well.

Before you call, gather as many facts as you can under the circumstances and write them down so you won’t forget them. Take a second look - a minute gathering more complete information may be worth the delay. If you are describing a person, important points include the race of the person, whether it is a male or a female, what the person is wearing, the color of his or her hair and any other outstanding characteristics. With a car description, a tag number is great if you can get it, and a report that the vehicle had a ladder on top or a dented left front fender is more useful than simply describing the vehicle as a "white van".
The job of the communications officer is to gather as much pertinent information relative to the situation as possible and to keep you on the phone if at all possible. This action better prepares deputies coming to your aid.

What to expect when you call 911

When you call 911 emergency lines, one of the first things you will be asked is "Is this an emergency? This question is a necessary one because unfortunately, some people do call 911 for non-emergencies. Communications Officers must often deal with 911 calls for directions, weather conditions or traffic information. This misuse of 911 is unacceptable, and has the potential of delaying true emergency calls.

Once it is established you do have an emergency situation, the Communications Officer will ask you a series of questions in an effort to get enough information so he/she can send the proper assistance to you as soon as possible. Try to answer the questions as calmly and clearly as possible. Help will be sent to you right away, and the more cooperative you are over the phone, the faster help will arrive. When you call 911, a computerized system will automatically tell the Communications Officer your address and phone number. If you have any special medical conditions you can register that information with the Sheriff’s Office and that information can be included in the system, and will be available to Communications officers when you call. The officer will continue to talk with you after help has been dispatched to you. The longer he/she can keep you on the phone and the more information that can be relayed to the responding deputy, ambulance or fire truck, the better and safer the situation is.

Communications officers in Monroe County are trained in Emergency Medical Dispatching. This means if you have a medical emergency, the Communications Officer will be able to assist you with initial treatment steps, such as performing CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver for choking victims, or other common medical emergencies.

Misuse of the 911 Emergency system

Unfortunately a substantial number of 911 calls received by MCSO Communications Officers are not of an emergency nature. If you are reporting a non-emergency situation such as a suspicious person, a previously stolen bike or a dog continually barking, 911 is not the proper number to call. The Sheriff’s Office offers non-emergency phone numbers for the reporting of such calls. Your call will still be handled appropriately, but this will allow true emergencies to be handled first.

Let me re-emphasize: 911 is for emergency calls only and is not equipped to answer questions, give directions, weather forecasts or road conditions. How would you like it if you had a real emergency and someone else was tying up the Communications Officer asking where the closest post office is? To report a non-emergency call, the following phone numbers may be called 24 hours a day: 305-745-3184, 305-289-2430, 305-853-3211, 305-289-2351.

Islamorada burglar identified by blood left at the scene

Islamorada – Sheriff’s detectives say they have charged an Islamorada man after his blood was identified at the scene of the convenience store burglary.

When the owner of Tiny’s Convenience Store arrived at work at 6 a.m. on October 21st, he found the large front window of the store broken out and cigar boxes all over the floor. The suspect had apparently cut himself on the window because there was blood on the floor of the store, near a rack of cigarettes. More blood was found in the parking lot and there was a strong odor of bleach from where the suspect appeared to have tried to wash the blood away.

During the subsequent investigation, a man who works nearby told Detective Patrick Crozier 46 year old Thomas Phillips, who lives in the same neighborhood as he does, told him he had broken into the store. The witness said Phillips asked him if he thought bleach would “kill blood”, and told him all he’d gotten from the store was a bunch of cigarettes.

Blood collected at the scene was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Recently, a report from FDLE revealed DNA from the blood was matched to Phillips, who was already in jail on other charges. Phillips was further charged with burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief.

Pembroke Pines man faces multiple charges

Key Largo – A Pembroke Pines man is in jail charged with battering his girlfriend, stealing her car and then burglarizing her house.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office Saturday afternoon. When Deputy Michael Sielicki arrived at her home on Narragansett Lane at 5:45 p.m., she told him her boyfriend, 54 year old Robert Burns, had gotten violent with her. She said he was drunk and had left beer cans all over. When she began cleaning them up, and asked him to stop, he got angry. She said he broke a lamp and, when he began picking up the pieces he cut himself, which made him more angry.

She said she tried to call the Sheriff’s Office, but he took her phone and keys. At one point, she said he grabbed her around the throat and began choking her, then hit her in the face.

He finally left, taking her 2010 Mercedes SUV without her permission.

On Monday afternoon, the victim got a call from her neighbor. The neighbor told her Burns had returned, with her car, and was inside the victim’s house. She called the Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Michael Claudy responded. The Mercedes was parked underneath the house and a door on the lower level of the home was open. Burns was found inside, hiding in a closet. He claimed to have permission from his girlfriend to be there. While inside, he’d eaten a frozen dinner and had been watching television.

Burns was arrested. He was charged with battery, grand theft auto, burglary and theft and resisting arrest. He was booked into jail.

April 8, 2013

Key Largo man charged with child pornography

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was arrested Friday, charged with multiple counts of possessing child pornography.

Major Crimes Detective Dan Mehler received a tip from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Subsequent investigation revealed an IP address traced to a known sex offender, 64 year old Michael O’Shea Williams,  who may have downloaded explicit images. Williams has a previous arrest and conviction for possession of child pornography.

A search warrant was obtained for his residence at 34 Avenue A in Key Largo. On Friday, the search warrant was served. A computer was seized; initial review of the computer revealed the presence of child pornography on it. Marijuana was also found in the kitchen.

While searching, detectives found what appeared to be a grenade in an outdoor laundry room. The grenade was safely handed over Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad Technician Sgt. Michael DiGiovanni. Sgt. DiGiovanni said the device turned out to be an Inert grenade that had already been rendered safe and was not explosive at the time it was found.

Assisting in service of the search warrant was the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes, Narcotics and Swat Units, with assistance from FDLE, Customs and Border Protection, and the US Secret Service.

Williams was charged with 30 counts possession of child pornography and possession of marijuana. More charges may be pending in the case.

Jail operations temporarily interrupted when woman turns in grenades

A woman who wanted to turn in a number of grenades belonging to a deceased friend drove them to the Plantation Key jail Saturday. When she arrived, deputies had to cordon off the parking lot and surrounding area until the Bomb Squad could arrive and determine whether or not they were dangerous.

Bomb Squad Technician Sgt. Michael DiGiovanni responded to the Plantation Key jail and secured the four devices, which turned out to be inert military-style smoke grenades.

Sgt. DiGiovanni would like to remind people if they find such devices, not to try to transport them to the Sheriff’s Office. Instead, call us and, for safety reasons, the Sheriff’s Office will respond to the location where they are found.

“You never know if these types of devices are explosive, and you never know how unstable they might be,” he said. “Don’t handle them, and don’t try to transport them. We are extensively trained in how to deal with explosives. Call us and we will safely take care of whatever the device is.”

April 7, 2013

Deputy arrested on drug charges

Big Pine Key – Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations detectives arrested a deputy Saturday night after he purchased drugs from an undercover operative while on duty.

Acting on information developed in an investigation, detectives arranged for a cooperating defendant (CD) to meet with Deputy Jaime Miranda at 6:30 p.m. at the Winn Dixie shopping center on Big Pine Key. Miranda was on duty, and in a marked patrol car at the time of the meeting. A special agent from Homeland Security was assisting in the investigation.

During the meeting, the CD handed over 10 fake Oxycodone pills; Miranda agreed to pay him for the pills on Monday.

Shortly after the transaction took place, Detective Sgt. Al Ramirez met with Miranda, searching his patrol car. Inside, he found 9 and one quarter of the fake pills, and a further 12 Hydromorphone pills in the glove compartment. A pipe was found in his pants pocket with marijuana residue in it.

Deputy Miranda admitted to ingesting part of one of the pills right after the transaction took place. He also admitted to taking the Hydromorphone pills from his aunt’s residence without her permission.

Deputy Miranda was charged with conspiracy to purchase narcotics, possession of synthetic narcotics, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

An internal investigation into his actions is pending. Miranda is currently suspended from his employment with the Sheriff’s Office without pay.

Miranda is 30 years old. He was hired by the Sheriff’s Office in October of 2008 and has been working as a road patrol deputy in the Lower Keys district.

“The integrity, honesty and professionalism of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is crucial to our ability to perform the job of law enforcement. I will not tolerate any behavior that compromises these values,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

“I am proud of the detectives who investigated this case. They did the right thing under difficult circumstances,” Sheriff Ramsay said.