January 31, 2014

Drug investigation continues into Stock Island Soca family

Detectives from various law enforcement agencies continue to search property on Stock Island belonging to the Soca family. Three members of the family were arrested this week on drug charges. Initial searches of their property turned up more than eight kilos of cocaine, hundreds of Oxycodone pills and thousands of Xanax bars. More than 600 short lobster tails were found bagged and frozen Wednesday night, and more were found today in other freezers on the property. So far, $75,000 in cash has been seized and a Ford F250 pickup truck belonging to Soca Jr.
Today, detectives operated heavy equipment digging up the yards surrounding the two trailers. Thursday night, they served a search warrant on a shed at the Stock Island lobster house. The shed was controlled by Soca Jr. Inside, they found approximately two pounds of marijuana described by detectives as “high-quality” and a small amount of cocaine.

During the course of the day, detectives say people who live in the vicinity have been driving by the property and thanking them for their actions.
Juan Soca Jr. has been charged so far with trafficking in cocaine and trafficking in Oxycodone. His bond is currently set at $6 million. Juan Soca Sr. has been charged so far with trafficking in cocaine. His bond is currently set at $1 million. Jose Soca has been charged so far with trafficking in cocaine and trafficking in oxycodone, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possessing the short lobster tails, which were found on his property. His bond is currently set at $6.055 million.

Agencies involved in the case include the Sheriff’s Office, Key West Police, Monroe HIDTA group, Key West HIDTA, Homeland Security Investigations and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Anyone who has any information about this criminal organization or drug activity by this family, contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If the information leads to additional charges or an additional arrest the tipster 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 tipsubmit.com.

In the photos, detectives operate heavy equipment today, digging up the grounds around the family’s two trailers. In the first few minutes of digging, they found more cocaine hidden in a PVC pipe. In one of the photos, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Detective Mark Jones holds up the drugs and the pipe. The drugs were found buried in the yard and in hidden compartments, false electrical boxes and in many other areas of the property.

January 30, 2014

Local family arrested for kilos of cocaine

In a case law enforcement says should finally dismantle the ongoing criminal operation run by a local Stock Island family, agencies working together arrested three family members and seized large quantities of drugs, property, cash and 500 undersized lobster tail.

Outside the Soca family compound.

63 year old Juan Soca Sr., 42 year old Juan Soca Jr. and 38 year old Jose Soca were all arrested Wednesday night at their family compound – two trailers located side by side at 6451 6th Street on Stock Island. Search warrants were obtained for the property after Socha Jr. sold 1.5 ounces of cocaine to a law enforcement undercover operative. The drug sale took place Tuesday near Stock Island Lobster Company where Soca has a commercial fishing vessel.

“This is not the first time we have served drug related search warrants on the Soca property,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “But we are going to do everything we can to make sure it is the last. The drug activity by these members of the Soca family is a danger to everyone in our county. The detectives who worked on this case – from multiple agencies – did an outstanding job of  stopping these criminals from their ongoing efforts to distribute large amounts of illegal narcotics. This operation will really make a dent in the drug activity in our community.”

Inside the Soca family compound.
This significant drug bust is an example of why it is imperative that our agencies work collaboratively to address crimes in the Lower Keys. The drug trade that is happening in Stock Island affects citizens of key west and vice versa,” said KWPD Chief Donie Lee.

The sale and the search warrants were the culmination of a joint investigation between the Sheriff’s Office, Key West Police, the Monroe High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Group (Monroe HIDTA), Key West HIDTA Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Special Weapons and Tactics teams from the Sheriff’s Office and Key West Police entered the two trailers simultaneously Wednesday evening. Soca Sr. and Jose Soca were both on the property at the time the warrants were served. Soca Jr. was picked up a short time later at an apartment building on South Roosevelt Boulevard. He had approximately 300 Oxycodone pills in his possession when he was arrested.

Drugs and cash seized on the Soca family property.
The search of the two trailers and the property they were on went on late into the night Wednesday and resumed Thursday morning as detectives continued to find drugs and money hidden in various areas, including buried in the ground, hidden in concealed compartments, false electrical boxes, and in a boat fender nailed to a fence which looked like a decoration.

A total of 8 kilos of cocaine, approximately 2,100 Xanax bars, approximately 580 Oxycodone pills, a crack cocaine cookie weighing 7 grams, and over $75,000 in cash were seized during the search. On property occupied by Jose Soca, detectives found 14 bags of frozen lobster tails containing approximately 500 undersized tails. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was asked to respond to the scene to assist with the find. In the affidavit charging Jose Soca, the FWC Officer said 90 percent of the tails he examined were undersized. Jose Socha possesses a commercial fishing license with crawfish, sponge, stone crab and restricted species endorsements.

All three men face charges of trafficking in cocaine. Jose Soca faces additional charges of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of the undersized lobster tails. Soca Jr. faces additional charges related to the drugs he possessed when he was arrested. Detectives are still working on arrest paperwork and warrants connected with this case and they say more charges are pending.

Two of the three men have been arrested in the past for similar crimes. Both Soca Jr. and Soca Sr. were previously charged with trafficking in cocaine in 2002;  Soca Jr. – who has a 28 arrests since 2001 on various charges -  was also arrested for trafficking in cocaine in 2003. Other arrest charges against him over the years include extortion, aggravated battery, burglary with battery on the occupant, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

This investigation is continuing as detectives continue to search related properties and work to seize all property and cash related to the drug activity of these Soca family members, including an Ford F250 truck owned by Soca Jr.

January 27, 2014

Cadets visit the Coast Guard

Upper Keys cadets visited the U.S. Coast Guard base in Islamorada where Petty Officer Smith conducted a tour of the base and spoke about the missions and responsibilities of the Coast Guard.

Cadets train in basic patrol

Sheriff’s Office cadets from Plantation Key School learned basic patrol procedures at a recent weekly meeting with SRO Deputies Larry O’Neill and Dave Stark guiding the training.

District One detectives formally inspected

 District One went through formal inspections last week. CIU was inspected first so they could cook a Cuban pork dinner while the rest of the district is being inspected. Here are some pictures from the CIU formal inspection. All Sheriff's Office patrol districts undergo a formal inspection at least once a year to make sure uniforms, weapons and vehicles are all kept in good condition.

Employees of the Fourth Quarter Awards

The Sheriff’s Office recognized its Employees of the Fourth Quarter for 2013 at a ceremony recently. Left to right, Sheriff Rick Ramsay, Crime Scene Detective John Underwood, Detention Deputy Angelina Lubin, Reserve Deputy Rosary Ponce, Maintenance Supervisor Dempsey Ballard and Explorer Dianko Torres received quarterly awards for being exemplary employees. Thank you to Barrett and Company for their sponsorship of the quarterly awards.

Altercation leads to stitches in Upper Keys dispute

Two men who’d argued in the past got into an altercation Sunday afternoon. The victim wound up at Mariner’s Hospital where he received 9 stitches for a head wound.

The 50 year old victim and the 44 year old suspect both live on Harry Davis Circle in Key Largo. On Sunday at 5:30 p.m., the victim told Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe he approached the suspect, Jose Oramas to talk to him about rumors he heard were being spread by Oramas about the victim.

He said when he approached the suspect, Oramas grabbed a metal pipe from his van and hit the victim with it. Oramas then reportedly fled in his van. Witnesses to the incident all told similar stories.

As Deputy O’Keefe was investigating and speaking with witnesses,  Oramas contacted the Sheriff’s Office and wanted to meet.  He was found on Jewfish Avenue. He told Deputy O’Keefe he’d hit Oramas with a large battery. He said he’d then thrown the battery away, but he was unclear about where he threw it.

After he was interviewed, Oramas was arrested. He was charged with aggravated battery and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail. The victim received 9 stitches to close his head wound.

January 25, 2014

Man arrested for armed threats to "illegal immigrants"

An Upper Keys man is in jail after he threatened a worker he called an illegal immigrant  with a knife Friday.

After making the threats, 53 year old Dean Ford told Deputy Dave Campbell he was "tired of all these illegal immigrants living and working in the area" . He told the deputy he "was going to deal with it" .

He admitted to going to a home on Ocean Way Drive in Rock Harbor at 1 p.m. Friday. There were people in the home working on it. He said he confronted them, calling them "illegal immigrants"  and demanding to "see their papers" . At the time of the confrontation, he was holding a knife, and he cut window screens at the home to show them who the boss was . At one point, he said he hit one man on the hand with the knife.

The victim, a 50 year old Miami man who was born in the United States, told Deputy Campbell he was busy working when Ford burst in the door armed with a knife demanding to see his papers.  He said Ford continued yelling about cleaning up the neighborhood and getting rid of illegal immigrants. The victim said when he reached for his cell phone to call police Ford slapped him on the hand with the knife. The victim said he decided it would be best to go outside so he walked out with Ford following.

He said he began talking loudly in the hopes people outside would hear him and in the hopes Ford would leave. He said there were some people outside and when he saw them, Ford walked away in the direction of Buttonwood Circle. The victim was then able to call law enforcement for help.

With the help of neighbors who recognized Ford s description, deputies found him at his apartment on Buttonwood Circle. Ford was placed under arrest. He was booked into jail on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery, criminal mischief and burglary.

January 23, 2014

Sheriff's Animal Farm open Sunday, January 26th

The Sheriff's Animal Farm will be open this Sunday January 26th, between 1 - 3 p.m. Bring the family and come visit the animals at the farm, including horses, a cow, pigs, goats, bunnies, alligators, tropical birds, a Kinkajou, Sloths, a Lemur, Kramer the Emu, a family of Patagonian Cavys, tortoises and turtles, snakes and many more. It is free of charge (donations are welcome).

You can also visit with two new additions to the animal farm: a skunk and an opossum.

The farm is located just off of College Road, on Stock Island, at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters complex. Groups may schedule special tours at the farm by calling Farmer Jeanne Selander at 305-293-7300. Visits to the far are free, and donations are welcome.

You can also keep up with the farm and it’s animals on Facebook. Visit our page at www.facebook.com/KeysAnimalFarm

January 21, 2014

Man steals car, burns it, carjacks another car

A Key Largo man went on a crime spree, stealing his daughter’s car, burning it then stealing a car from another man who was gassing up his vehicle at a nearby gas station. The suspect was finally apprehended in Maryland, but injured himself during the apprehension.

50 year old Robert Hoffman of Ryan Avenue in Key Largo reportedly stole his daughter’s 2007 Ford Fusion while she was working an overnight shift. She said she was sleeping after work Friday morning just before 10 a.m. when Hoffman entered her bedroom. She said he threw her car keys at her, saying “I just blew up your car”. When she went outside, her car was on fire. She told Detective Yunier Galvez Hoffman had been on a multiple day drug and alcohol binge.

Hoffman fled from the house. Just minutes later, Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a man at the Tom Thumb store at the 104 mile marker. He said he’d just fought with a man who had stolen the car he was driving, a 2001 Mercury sedan. The car belonged to the man’s roommate. He said the man – later identified as Hoffman – ran up to him, threw him to the ground and yelled “I’m stealing your car”. He said he fought with Hoffman, who jumped in and drove off in the car with the pump handle still in the gas tank.

A notice to be on the lookout for the car was issued and the car was entered into both state and national crime computers as stolen. On Saturday afternoon, the stolen car was located after the license plate was read going through a tunnel on I-95 in Maryland.  Law enforcement attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle, which refused to stop. It crashed after an eight mile chase. Hoffman, who was driving, fled on foot and, before he was apprehended, he cut his own neck. He was airlifted to a downtown Baltimore City hospitial for medical care.

He faces possible charges of two counts of grand theft auto, carjacking and felony criminal mischief.

January 20, 2014

Marathon man arrested for firing flare gun at another man

Marathon  Two men who live on board boats in Boot Key Harbor got into a dispute just before 5 p.m. Saturday. In front of witnesses on neighboring boats, one of the men fired a flare gun at the other man as the dispute escalated.

The witnesses say the two men, whose boats are anchored about 50 feet apart, have had disputes in the past. They said on this occasion they began yelling at each other from their respective vessels. 58 year old Argelio Soto then picked up a flare gun, firing it at the victim.

Deputy Vince Weiner and officers from Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission went to Soto s boat. Soto, who reportedly appeared to be intoxicated, told them the dispute was because he believes the victim came onto his boat earlier without permission. He admitted to firing the flare gun at the victim, and said if he d had more flares he would have fired more times. He told Deputy Weiner he is not afraid to kill .

Soto was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a weapon. He was booked into jail.

January 19, 2014

Man arrested for attack on tow truck driver

Tavernier  A 43 year old Miami man went to jail Saturday evening after he backed his car into a tow truck driver who was attempting to tow it away.

The victim, an employee of Guy s Towing, responded to a call from a resident of Driftwood Trailer Park at 6 p.m. who said an unauthorized vehicle was parked in his parking space and he wanted it towed. The tow truck arrived and the victim began to hook the vehicle up to tow it.

The owner of the car, Javier Ramos, jumped into his car in an attempt to stop it from being towed. The victim was behind the vehicle when Ramos began to back it up. Ramos backed up into the victim, knocking him to the ground.

A second employee of the tow company sprayed Ramos with pepper spray in an attempt to get him to stop, so he wouldn t further injure the victim. At that point, Ramos attacked the tow company employees. Ramos  family members were nearby and joined in the attack.

Deputies Derick Velez and Diosvel Fumero responded. They separated all of those involved in the altercation. Ramos was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. The victim was taken to Mariner s Hospital for treatment of injuries to his face and back.

January 18, 2014

Marathon man charged with vehicle burglaries

A Marathon man was arrested Friday, charged with burglarizing three vehicles in Marathon in November and December.

Deputy Chuck Kellenberger investigated the cases. One of the vehicles was parked on Sombrero Boulevard. The Ford truck had a camper shell on the back. Between the night of November 23rd and the morning of the 24th, tools were stolen from the back of the truck. Two other vehicles  A Dodge Durango and a Ford van -  were both burglarized between December 17th and the 20th. A socket set was stolen from the Durango and a GPS was stolen from the van.

Deputy Kellenberger checked pawn shops in Marathon to see if any items stolen in any of the burglaries had been pawned. He found the GPS stolen from the van pawned at Joe s Pawn Shop. It had been pawned by 30 year old Timirau Conrado of Marathon.

Deputy Kellenberger confronted Conrado with the information about the pawned GPS being stolen in a vehicle burglary. Conrado admitted to stealing it from the vehicle. He also admitted to the two other vehicle burglaries.

Warrants were obtained for his arrest and on Friday, he was charged with three counts of burglary and three counts of theft. He was booked into jail.

Two arrested for using debit card without permission

A Big Pine Key couple was arrested Friday, charged with using a debit card belonging to a family member without permission.

28 year old Alesha Ratliff and 31 year old Scott Kennedy both admitted to taking a debit card belonging to Ratliff s mother and grandmother and using it to obtain cash on numerous occasions. They also admitted to charging other items on the card. The victims reported the theft after noticing over $1,600 missing from their joint bank account.

Deputy Scott Ward responded to the report and investigated the case. After interviewing Ratliff and Kennedy, he placed them under arrest. The two were charged with grand theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, theft of a credit card and identity theft.

Two arrested on drug charges

Detectives arrested two on drug charges after a traffic stop in Marathon.

Detectives were on patrol at 5 p.m. when they saw a silver Chevrolet Malibu southbound on U.S. One near 55th Street. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt so a nearby marked patrol car driven by K-9 handler Danielle Malone responded and pulled the car over. Deputy  Malone and her dog Tracer performed a check on the outside of the vehicle  after it was stopped. The dog alerted on the car, indicating the presence of drugs inside.

A search turned up 19 grams of cocaine, packaged for sale, and 36 grams of marijuana also individually wrapped in smaller quantities, packaged as if for sale. Some of the drugs were found in a hidden compartment in an Aquanet hairspray can.

The driver, 26 year old Rebecca Wells of Big Pine Key and her passenger, 29 year old Aaron Lindsey of Big Pine Key were both arrested. They were charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. The car was seized for possible forfeiture, along with $431.00 in cash.

Fire burns restaurant, damages marina

Photos from multiple sources within the Sheriff s Office

A fire burned Salty s Bar and Grill in Marathon and destroyed two boats at the Seven Mile Marina early today.

Sheriff s Office dispatchers fielded numerous calls at 3 a.m. from people reporting the fire. When deputies arrived, they found the restaurant fully engulfed. As fire units began arriving on scene, deputies stopped traffic north and southbound. According to reports, firefighters and equipment from four stations in the Marathon area responded; as many as seven trucks were putting water on the fire as it was burning.

By 4 a.m., firefighters reported they d knocked down the fire. At the same time, deputies and firefighters had to keep a close eye in the area of 11th Street as a heavy rain of embers was reportedly falling in that area.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was on hand in the waters offshore of the marina as they kept an eye on boats which had broken free of their moorings. Two boats were destroyed in the fire. A car in the parking lot of the restaurant also burned.

During the course of the fire,  Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority assisted with water pressure so fire trucks would have enough water to fight the fire; Florida Keys Electric Co-op responded to cut electricity to the property; Amerigas also responded to assist with large propane tanks on the property.

At 5:30 a.m., deputies began to let traffic flow one lane at a time. Fortunately, there was very little traffic on the roadway at that time of the morning so few cars were backed up. The road was completely opened at 5:45 a.m.

County and State fire marshals responded and will be investigating the cause of the fire.


January 15, 2014

Bicycle Safety

In the Florida Keys, many people ride bicycles for exercise, recreation and to get from place to place instead of driving a car. Unlike a car, however, there is no driving test required to ride a bicycle. Many of us learned to ride when we were children, but many people remain unaware of the requirements attached to riding a bike. And the consequences of making a mistake when riding a bike can be severe – many bicyclists are hit and seriously injured or killed. A bicycle offers virtually no protection during an accident, and bicyclists are often overlooked by motorized vehicle drivers who fail to see them. When you are riding a bike, it is wise to be a defensive driver. Keep a close eye on all other vehicles around you; be smart and be aware.

We have many bike paths throughout the Keys and bicyclists should use them whenever possible. This doesn’t mean you are entirely safe, however. There are many intersections where motor vehicles cross the bike path. Never assume a motor vehicle will stop for you. A motor vehicle driver may not see you coming. Keep a close eye out and be prepared for anything.

It is first and foremost important to know most of the same traffic laws that apply to cars traveling on a roadway also apply to bicycles traveling on a roadway. For instance:
  •  Under Florida law, directional signs on streets must be complied with by both motorized and by pedal powered vehicles. This means it is against the law, for instance, for a bicyclist to ride the wrong way on a one way street.
  • Bicyclists must also obey other traffic signs and lights. A bicycle must come to a full stop at stop signs, and must stop at red lights until the light turns green. When a bicyclist is stopped at a stop sign or traffic light, he or she must wait in line with all the other vehicles that are stopped. Passing cars on the right hand side and riding to the front of the line is against the law.
  • Bicycles, like cars, must yield the right of way to pedestrians in cross walks. If a bicyclist rides on the side walk, he or she must yield to pedestrians, and must give an audible warning signal when approaching from behind.
  • Two people may not ride on a bicycle, unless the bike is made to carry two people. An adult may carry a small child in a backpack or sling or in a child seat properly fixed to the frame of the bicycle.
  • After sunset, a bicyclist is required to have a white headlight on the front, visible from a distance of 500 feet. The bicycle must also have a red taillight or reflector visible from 600 feet away. Hand held flashlights do not count as headlights under the law.
Wear that Bike Helmet!

The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that bicyclists under the age of 16 must wear a properly fitted and secured bicycle helmet which meets nationally recognized standards. A person found to be in violation of this law will receive a nonmoving traffic citation. This includes children riding in a trailer or semi-trailer attached to a bicycle. Adult riders are wise to also wear a helmet. They can protect your head in case you fall off your bike or are hit by a car.

The law also prohibits a bicycle from carrying more people than it was designed to carry. Passengers under four years old, weighing 40 pounds or less, must be secured in a carrier designed to hold a child that age and size to protect the child from moving.

Some other points to remember while riding a bike:
  •  Under Florida law, a bicyclist may not hang on to another moving vehicle while on a roadway.
  • A bicyclist traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic should ride as close as possible to the right hand edge of the road.
  •  A bicyclist should keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
  • Under Florida law, bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast on roadways.
  •  Bicycles are often hard to see, and riders must be extra careful to watch over their own safety. By the time someone else sees a bike, it is often too late.
  • A bicyclist must not wear a headset, head phones or other listening devices (other than a hearing aid) when riding. Wearing such devices is against the law, and blocks out important sounds needed to detect the presence of other traffic.
If you are caught violating Florida law, the fines for moving traffic violations will apply and can be substantial.

January 14, 2014

Drunk, armed man arrested on Big Pine Key

A intoxicated man who was openly carrying a handgun struggled with deputies and was arrested today on Big Pine Key.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received several calls reporting a man who appeared to be intoxicated who had a handgun visible in the waistband of his pants. Deputy Scott Ward responded to the location – the Ace Hardware store on Big Pine Key.

When he and Deputy Linda Kohout arrived, they found 45 year old Jeffrey Charron of Big Pine Key sitting on the ground in front of the business. He had a gun, visible, tucked in his pants. Deputy Ward ordered him to put his hands up and keep them in the air where he could see them. Charron instead began to lower one hand toward the gun. Deputy Kohout walked up  to him and was able to grab his arm. Ward grabbed the other arm.

As they attempted to handcuff Charron, he struggled with them. A corrections officer who was riding with Deputy Kohout on patrol took safe control of the gun, a loaded Walther .380. Charron was taken into custody.

A number of witnesses said Charron was having trouble standing. At one point he reportedly went into the hardware store  and sat on the floor. He was asked to leave and he went outside, where he was found by deputies.

Charron was charged with carrying a firearm openly, improper exhibition of a firearm and resisting an officer. He was booked into jail.

Three promoted

In the photo, left to right: Captain Bruce Winegarden,
Lt. Alberto Ramirez, Lt. David Carey and Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay held a ceremony Monday in Marathon to award three promotions.

Detective Sgt. David Carey, Detective Sgt. Alberto Ramirez and Lt. Bruce Winegarden were all promoted Monday. Newly promoted Lt. Carey will fill the post of Islamorada Station Commander, taking the place of Lt. Derek Paul who will be moving to the same position in Marathon. Lt. Alberto Ramirez will move from his current post in the Special Investigations Division to the position of Upper Keys Station Commander at the Roth Building on Plantation Key. He takes the place of Lt. Mitch Horn who is moving to fill a position vacancy in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area group in Miami.

Newly promoted Captain Bruce Winegarden will fill in as District Commander in Marathon for Captain Gene Thompson who will be attending the upcoming FBI National Law Enforcement Academy for the next several months. Working under him will be Lt. Paul.

Shortly after Captain Thompson is scheduled to return, Captain Winegarden will be retiring. At that point, the command team in Marathon will consist of Captain Thompson and Lt. Paul.

The two vacant detective sergeant positions have been posted internally and will be filled in due course.

January 12, 2014

Big Pine man arrested for marijuana

A Big Pine Key man was arrested on Friday after he was stopped for not wearing a seat belt and a large amount of marijuana was found in his truck.

Detectives on patrol on Grassy Key Friday just before noon spotted a white truck on Guava Avenue. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt, so they pulled the truck over. As they were making contact with the driver, they could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the truck.

They called for an assist from a K-9 team. The team responded and during a K-9 search of the outside of the truck, the dog alerted indicating the presence of drugs inside. A search inside revealed a box containing a plastic bag filled with 235 grams of marijuana.

The search also turned up two different kinds of pills, identified as Alprazolam and Adderal. The driver, 27 year old James Wells of Big Pine Key, had a prescription for the Alprazolam but not for the Adderal.

Wells was arrested. He was charged with possessing a felony amount of marijuana and with possession of a controlled substance. He was booked into jail.

January 10, 2014

Woman, dancing in the grass with white substance on her face, arrested for stolen vehicle

A Miami woman acting erratically at Coral Shores High School this morning was arrested after deputies found the car she was traveling in was stolen.

Assistant Principal Blake Fry first reported a woman acting strangely on school grounds at 7:30 a.m. He told School Resource Deputy Larry O’Neill a woman with a white substance all over her face and was hitting her own car – a white BMW - with a bungee cord and threatening students with a rock. Deputy O’Neill, who was working in the school crossing on U.S. One, radioed in for assistance and deputies responded. When they arrived, the car had left campus. they found it parked blocking a lane of the highway. 43 year old Elizabeth Quintana was out of the car, dancing in the gras near Coral Isles Church, just north of the school. She was dressed in strange clothing that was wet and had a white substance on her face which might be some kind of theatrical paint. She said something unintelligible about “Disney” and there were random things written all over the car in pink marker.

A check on the vehicle revealed it was reported stolen in Miami on January 9th. It appeared that the vehicle was parked in the highway because it had run out of gas. Quintana was arrested. She was charged with grand theft of the automobile, trespassing on school grounds and disorderly conduct.

A man who was in the vehicle with her was released after it was discovered he did not know her and that she had picked him up and given him a ride from Key West.

Clean up in Key Largo

This make shift building has been home to several homeless people trespassing on this property. Several juvenile runaways were located here in past months, and it has been the frequent site of juvenile drinking.
Instead of continuing to respond to repeat calls there, we decided to work with the property owner to eliminate the problem.
Thank you to Sgt. Jason Madnick for spearheading the clean up. Thanks also to all those who helped with it, including Publix for donating sandwich’s, water and sodas; Marlin Contracting for the use of their personnel, Bobcat and dump truck; Keys Sanitation for assisting with debris removal; and KL Fire Department for assisting with traffic control and debris removal.

Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride

Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride kicks off in Key Largo this morning.

January 9, 2014

Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride

Wounded Warrior soldier ride in the Keys tomorrow through Sunday. Here is the information - come out and cheer them on!

Bike rodeo in Marathon

Sgt. Dennis Coleman and Deputy Chuck Kellenberger recently held a bicycle rodeo
 in Marathon, teaching kids bike safety.

Clean up held in Layton

 Photos from this past Saturdays clean up in the city of Layton. The aim of the project was to clean up along the US 1 corridor and on a couple side streets in the city. There were approximately 50 participants total, from the Sheriff’s Office, Layton, Conch Key, Marathon and the Upper Keys.

The majority of the trash came from US 1, with a total of 3320 pounds removed from the area.

Drug Drop program: Environmentally friendly way to dispose of medications

Reminder:  The Sheriff’s Office will accept any and all old or outdated medications

Note: The Sheriff's Office will not accept medications from commercial establishments

Monroe County – The Monroe County The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone about the ongoing drug disposal program offered at all our Sheriff's Office Substations. The program has been an ongoing success. The Sheriff’s Office collected 185 pounds of various medications in the past six months of this year, from July 1 – December 31, 2013.

Proper disposal of prescription and over the counter medications is important. Flushing them down the toilet or sink can introduce dangerous and environmentally damaging substances into the water system; throwing them away in the trash can also introduce them into the environment, and you run the risk of them winding up in the wrong hands. The medications collected by the Sheriff’s Office are safely burned in the Sheriff's Burn Unit.

County-wide, citizens may bring no-longer-needed prescription drugs and other over the counter medications in, or call and someone will pick the medications up for disposal.

People who call to have medications picked up can do so with no questions asked. The Sheriff's Office goal is to dispose of the items properly, not to catch people with illegal pills.

·         In the Upper Keys, medications will be accepted at the Plantation Key Substation Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. For pickup, call 305-853-3211 during office hours.
·         In the Middle Keys, the Marathon Substation will accept any medications Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For pickup, call 305-289-2430 during office hours.
·         In the Lower Keys, citizens can drop off medications at the Freeman Substation on Cudjoe Key at the Sheriff's Office headquarters building on Stock Island Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or call 305-745-3184 for pickup.

Caution: people who are going to bring their medications in themselves need to make sure to keep prescriptions in the prescription bottle while transporting them in case they need to show proof the prescription is legitimately theirs. 

January 8, 2014

Sheriff announces employee promotions and transfers

Sheriff Rick Ramsay on Wednesday announced several employee promotions and transfers taking place in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office this week.

Lt. Mitch Horn, who has served as station commander in the District Six Islamorada District and in the Upper Keys District Seven patrol district in recent years will be moving from his current position as District Seven  station commander to fill a position vacancy in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area group in Miami. To fill his position in Key Largo, Detective Sgt. Al Ramirez will be promoted to Lieutenant. He will move from his current position in the Special Investigations Division to the Roth Building in District Seven.

Captain Gene Thompson, commander of the Marathon patrol district, will be attending the upcoming FBI National Law Enforcement Academy for the next several months. In his absence, Islamorada Lt. Derek Paul will be moving from the District Six station commander position to the Marathon Substation. He will be working with current Marathon Lt. Bruce Winegarden in Marathon for the next several months until Lt. Winegarden’s retirement, after which Lt. Paul will continue to work in Marathon under Captain Thompson.

To fill the position of Islamorada Station Commander, Det. Sgt. Dave Carey will be promoted to Lieutenant, moving from his current position in charge of Upper Keys detectives.

The two detective sergeant positions are currently being posted internally and will be filled in due course.

Event to raise money for a great cause!

Hope many turn out for this event, to raise money for a great cause!

Brush fire, Big Pine Key

Photos taken by Deputy Bradford Colen

A brush fire on the National Key Deer refuge on Big Pine Key Tuesday night caused one home to be evacuated and shut down Key Deer Boulevard as firefighting crews worked to extinguish the blaze.

Deputies and Monroe County firefighters responded to the fire at 5:50 p.m., located north of Wildwood Lane on Big Pine Key. Fire hoses had to be stretched across Key Deer Boulevard from the Eden Pines Substation to Wildwood Lane so firefighters could fight the fire.

The area burning was primarily wooded, and was reported to be primarily federal property. One home close to the fire was evacuated and others living nearby were notified so they could prepare to evacuate if it became necessary. The fire was extinguished and the road opened by 8 p.m.

An officer from the Key Deer refuge told Sgt. Evan Calhoun he would be investigating the cause of the blaze.

January 3, 2014

Islamorada man charged with clandestinely videotaping teen

A 44 year old Islamorada man was arrested today, charged with secretly video recording a teenage girl the bathroom of her Islamorada home.

The 16 year old victim was getting ready to take a shower when she noticed a small clock sitting on the counter of the bathroom. She examined it more closely, discovering it had a small, hidden camera inside. When she removed the digital storage card from the device and copied it to her computer, she realized she was being video recorded.

She told her older sister about finding the camera. They reported it to their mother.

On January 1st, Detective Manny Cuervo was assigned to investigate the case. According to his reports, 44 year old Douglas Adams was shown clearly on the camera s video recording placing the device in the bathroom. Detectives confronted him with the information today, arresting and charging him with video voyeurism. He was booked into jail.

Big Coppitt Key man charged with having marijuana grow operation

A Big Coppitt Key man was arrested Thursday afternoon after deputies discovered he was growing marijuana at his trailer on Venus Lane.

A neighbor called the Sheriff s Office after smelling the odor of marijuana coming from 213 Venus Lane. When Deputy Matt Dowling arrived, she pointed out the suspicious trailer. The resident of 213 Venus lane -  64 year old Michael Davis - saw the deputy looking at his home. He immediately began picking up marijuana plants which were growing outside and throwing them in the canal behind his home.

As Deputy Dowling ordered him to stop, Davis continued throwing the plants in the water. He went inside and began bringing more plants outside. Deputy Dowling ran to the home and ordered Davis to stop and he finally did.

Detectives from the Sheriff s Special Investigations Unit responded and obtained a warrant to search the trailer. Inside they found a marijuana growing operation set up, including special lighting, pots, misters and fans. Marijuana plants were recovered from the canal and from inside the home.

Davis was charged with production of marijuana, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.