February 28, 2014

Detective needs help identifying suspect

Detective Dave Chavka would like the public’s assistance identifying a man who broke the glass door on a convenience store cooler, and stole a pack of beer.

 The incident took place February 18th at the Dion’s Quik Mart on Big Coppitt Key. A man wearing just dark colored basketball shorts and no shirt entered the store just before 5 p.m. First, he walked to coolers on the back wall of the store. He struck the glass door of one of the coolers, shattering it. He then walked up to the counter where another customer had placed a four pack of Natural Ice beer. The suspect took the four pack of beer and fled the store without paying for it.

He left driving a silver colored four door sedan, possibly a Nissan Sentra with a Florida license plate.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact Detective Chavka at 305-292-7060. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Crime Stoppers tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip 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.

Employees of the Year honored

Last week, the Sheriff’s Office held its Employee of the Year award ceremony in Marathon. The five award winners are from all areas of the Sheriff’s Office – law enforcement, corrections, support, reserves and the explorer program.
“The people chosen to be Employees of the Year are truly the best of the best – they have proven themselves to be outstanding employees, as well as outstanding contributors to the community they serve,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay.
The Employees of the Year are chosen from all of those who received one of the Sheriff’s Employee of the Quarter awards throughout the past year. 
The yearly award winners received a special plaque from the sheriff in recognition of their exemplary work, and a badge to wear on their uniforms with the designation “Officer [or Employee] of the Year.” In addition, they each receive a check for $500 which, this year, was donated by Centennial Bank, and $1,000 from the Sheriff’s Office. The Explorer of the Year receives $100 donated by Centennial Bank, with a matching amount from the Sheriff’s Office. 
The Cormier Memorial Award, given to the Sheriff’s Office Sworn Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, is named for Deputy David Cormier, a Sheriff’s Reserve Officer killed in the line of duty in a traffic accident in November of 1989. Members of the Cormier family attend the ceremony each year in memory of their loved one who gave his life in service to the community.

This year’ s recipients are pictured with Majors Tommy Taylor and Lou Caputo (in the photo, left to right): Major Taylor, Support employee Maintenance Supervisor Dempsey Ballard, Reserve Deputy Rosary Ponce (Ponce is now a certified deputy sheriff with MCSO), Corrections / Detention Deputy Angelina Lubin, Explorer Post Lieutenant Thomas Mirabella and Law Enforcement: Detective Nicholis Whiteman and Major Caputo.

February 27, 2014

Woman charged with aggravated child abuse

Stock Island - A 32 year old woman was arrested Wednesday, charged with throwing boiling water on a 14 year old girl.

Detectives say no one seems to know why Nadeige Pluviose threw the boiling water on the victim in the early morning hours, about 6 a.m. Wednesday. Pluviose herself refused to make a statement about the incident. The victim suffered second and third degree burns on her face, neck and shoulder.

A witness told Detective Manuel Cuervo he heard the victim screaming and saw Pluviose running from the room where the victim had been sleeping, carrying a plastic cup. He said he checked the kitchen and found the stove still hot. The victim was treated with home remedies until someone reported the incident to the Child Abuse Hotline. Once detectives responded at 1 p.m. Wednesday, she was transported for professional treatment at Lower Keys Hospital.

Pluviose was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of aggravated child abuse – a first degree felony crime.

From the Florida Department of Children and Families website:

The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. To make a report you can:

·       If you suspect or know of a child or vulnerable adult in immediate danger, call 911.
Florida law requires any individual who suspects that a child has been abused by any person to report that to the Florida Abuse Hotline.

Penalties for those who suspect a child is being abused but fail to report it have been increased from a misdemeanor to a felony. Financial penalties also have increased.

February 26, 2014

Two arrested for boat burglaries, vehicle burglary

An alert neighbor who called the Sheriff’s Office and a rapid response from deputies resulted in the arrest of two teens for multiple counts of burglary.

A man who lives on 27th Street in Marathon called the Sheriff’s Office at 5:30 a.m. to report suspicious activity in his neighborhood. He said he heard people walking up and down his dock, looked outside and saw two people climbing into a vessel across the canal from him.

Deputies responded and saw flashlights going on and off inside a boat docked at a home on 28th Street. They surrounded the vessel and boarded it, giving commands for anyone on board to come out with their hands visible. A young man and a young woman walked out of the boat. The man is 19 year old Hunter Bradley of Marathon. The woman is a 17 year old from Marathon.

The woman told the deputies she had permission to be on the boat. The boat’s owner was contacted. It turned out his daughter did tell the girl she could sleep on the boat. The girl did not, however, have permission to take any belongings from the boat and she was found to have two GPS Units from the boat in her purse.

Further investigation revealed a number of items on the boat that did not belong there, including a guitar, a steel bracket, four fishing rods and a fire extinguisher. On the dock nearby was a large speaker. Deputies began contacting people who lived in the area. All of the items except the guitar and speaker had been taken from nearby vessels.

The guitar and the speaker turned out to have been stolen from a car parked on 28th Street. A matching speaker was still inside the car.

Both Bradley and the girl were arrested. They were charged with five counts each of burglary and grand theft in connection with the vessel burglaries. They were charged with one count each of burglary and grand theft in connection with the vehicle burglary.

February 25, 2014

Sheriff gives to Take Stock in Children

The Sheriff’s Office contributed $25,000 to the Take Stock in Children program this week. The money comes from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which is money seized in criminal cases.

Sheriff Ramsay strongly supports the educational program, which provides mentors for low-income youth during their middle and high school years and awards students with college scholarships as well. The Sheriff encourages his employees to participate as mentors - ten employees are currently mentoring youth throughout the county.

“This program benefits the kids it serves, but it also benefits our community as a whole. A kid who is more involved and more serious about their education is less likely to wind up on the wrong side of the criminal justice system,” he said.  “They also contribute value once they obtain that education and return to our community to join the workforce.”

In the photo, left to right: Sheriff Ramsay contributes $25,000 to Take Stock in Children. Accepting the check is Program Coordinator Leslie Holmes, President Emeritus John Padget and Success Coach Chuck Licis.

Kemp receives FSA award

Rita Kemp of Key West received a Florida Sheriff’s Association 30 year Honorary Member Distinguished Service Award. Sheriff Rick Ramsay presented the award to her for her long-standing support of the organization.

Niles receives FSA award

Jack Niles from Niles Sales and Service of the Keys received the Florida Sheriff’s Association Gold Business Membership recently. Here he is with Sheriff Rick Ramsay, presenting the plaque to him and thanking him for his contributions to the worthy organization.

Deputies have fun with Switlik kids!

Sgt. Ken Fricke and Deputy Mark Martin helped out recently with Stanley Switlik’s Head Start VPK classes at their parent / child kickball game. Here they are in two photos having fun with the kids!

Deputies attend funeral in Orlando

 Deputies Andrew Leird and Jason Keith represented the Sheriff’s Office at the funeral of Orange County Deputy Scott Pine, killed in the line of duty February 11th while pursuing a burglar. Thousands of officers from around the state were there to show their respect for the fallen officer and his family.

District Seven formal inspection

 District Seven (Upper Keys) deputies and detectives underwent their annual formal inspection recently. The inspections are performed to ensure everyone has proper equipment and that the equipment, including vehicles and weapons, is in good working order and is well cared for.

February 24, 2014

Bird with broken wings rescued

Deputy Chris Duncan and former Sheriff Rick Roth rescued this pelican at the 69 mile marker on Friday. The bird had two broken wings and had crawled through the mangroves into a marshy area. They borrowed a kayak in order to reach the bird and rescue it. The bird was taken to the Wild Bird Center in Marathon for care.

Tavernier clean up scheduled

The Sheriff’s Office is organizing a cleanup at Old Settler’s Park in Tavernier, mile marker 92, this Saturday, March 1st, at 9 a.m. Sheriff’s Office members and members of the public are welcome to participate. Gloves, garbage bags and water will be provided. Come out and help the Sheriff’s Office keep the community clean!

Deputy involved in accident

A Sheriff’s deputy was involved in an accident Sunday night in Key Largo. The following information is preliminary, based on dispatch notes: at 9 p.m., Deputy Tim Hunsberger was on duty, in a marked patrol vehicle. He was responding to back up another officer who was on a traffic stop at the 104 mile marker of the highway.

Deputy Hunsberger was southbound on County Road 905 and transitioning onto highway U.S. One at the 106 mile marker. At that location, the motorcycle and his patrol vehicle were involved in a collision. Deputy Hunsberger was not injured. The motorcycle driver was injured in the accident.

Florida Highway Patrol responded and will be the investigating agency on this case. Please contact them for any further details.

February 22, 2014

Drug charges added to warrant arrest

Deputies attempting to arrest a man on an outstanding warrant for sale of cocaine found 35 grams of cocaine hidden in the man s boxer shorts.

Deputies Ian Cooper and Wendy Negron went to 31251 Avenue E on Big Pine Key at 1 a.m. today looking for 26 year old Jerome Durham Jr. Durham was wanted for sale of cocaine within 100 feet of a public park. When they arrived, Durham came out of the house and he was taken into custody.

During a routine search of Durham, Deputy Cooper felt two lumps underneath the rear of his shorts. The lumps turned out to be two plastic bags hidden in his boxer shorts. Inside the bags was white powder which tested positive as cocaine.

Durham was further charged with trafficking in cocaine and he was booked into jail.

February 21, 2014

Traffic congestion alert: Islamorada

If you plan to do any traveling in or through the area of Islamorada this weekend, this is a reminder: there will most likely be traffic delays in the vicinity of Founder’s Park in Islamorada due to the Rotary Nautical Flea Market taking place on Saturday and Sunday.

The annual event is expected to cause traffic delays between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on both days. These delays will be compounded by the Snake Creek draw bridge, which will continue to open on the hour, each hour to allow boat traffic through.

Officers will be assigned to the area to assist with both traffic and pedestrian control.

Plan plenty of extra time (at least an extra hour) if you have to travel through the area of Founder’s Park, at the 87 mile marker of highway U.S. One.

February 20, 2014

Big Pine man charged with fleeing from deputy

A Big Pine Key man was arrested after he fled from a deputy who was trying to stop him for speeding.

Deputy John Gabay was northbound at the 24 mile marker of the highway just after midnight Thursday when a vehicle passed him at a high rate of speed southbound. Deputy Gabay’s radar measured the car’s speed at 73 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. He turned around and attempted to stop the vehicle – a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox.

The driver – later identified as 27 year old Anthony Velez LLanes – failed to stop and instead, turned off the highway onto Cutthroat Drive, then onto Jolly Roger Drive where it stopped on the front lawn of a home. Velez LLanes jumped out of the car and ran behind the house, where he was apprehended hiding behind some garbage cans. He attempted to flee from the deputy a second time during his apprehension, but Deputy Gaby caught up with him and took him into custody.

Deputy Gabay and back up officer Kendall Bailey could both smell marijuana while near Velez LLanes, but could not find any in his possession. After he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center, corrections officers found a small amount of the illegal substance in one of his pockets.

Valez LLanes was charged with fleeing and eluding law enforcement, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, introduction of contraband to a corrections facility. He also received citations for speeding and running a stop sign.

Teen charged with molesting small children

A 19 year old man who has recently been staying in the Stock Island area was arrested for molesting young children.

Jason Patrick McCain acted as caregiver for both of the victims – aged 6 and 7 – at various times.  In December, one of them disclosed to her mother that McCain had molested her. A short time later, the second child’s mother called the Sheriff’s Office to report she believed her son had also been molested by McCain.

Major Crimes Detective Rosa DiGiovanni was assigned to investigate.  Following her investigation into the allegations,  warrants were issued for Jason Patrick McCain.

On February 10th, McCain was arrested on the outstanding warrants in Broward County. He was returned to Monroe County where he is currently charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on small children.

February 19, 2014

Drug related search warrant served on Stock Island

Stock Island – A search warrant served at a Stock Island residence this morning resulted in the arrest of a 29 year old man for drug possession.

The warrant was served at 6415 2nd Street, Apartment E by Sheriff’s Special Investigations detectives, detectives from the Lower Keys Criminal Investigative Unit, Key West Police detectives and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A search of the premises turned up 64 Oxycodone pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Over $10,000 was seized as the possible proceeds of drug sales. Xavier Blackman was taken into custody, charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. 

Remains identified as homeless man

The human remains found in a wooded area off of College Road on Stock Island Monday have been identified as 53 year old William Brian Norton. He was identified using dental records, with the assistance of family members who live in Naples, Florida.

Norton’s sister said she last spoke with him in May of 2013. She said at that time he was homeless and “living on the beach”. She said he was known to have many medical issues.

Detectives say there is no evidence of foul play in Norton’s death.

Flare safely removed from the water

Bomb Squad Leader Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni responded to a spot offshore near Munson Island, 29mm on the ocean side, to retrieve a military flare. Sgt. DiGiovanni wants to remind everyone not to touch such devices if they find them. Instead, call the Sheriff’s Office so a trained professional can deal with them.

Islamorada formal inspection

The Islamorada District underwent its annual formal inspection last week with everyone looking sharp. Inspections are done annually to ensure all officers have required equipment, the equipment is well cared for and that vehicles and weapons are in good working order.

Here are some photos of the inspection and a group shot as well.

February 18, 2014

Sheriff’s Office seeks to identify graffiti vandals

Deputies and inmates from the Plantation Key jail paint out graffiti in Key Largo
The Sheriff’s Office is looking for information which might help identify suspects who vandalized several vehicles and businesses over the weekend.

The first report came in the early morning hours Saturday. A woman who lives on Caribbean Drive in Key Largo came home at 2:45 a.m. to find her white Saturn had been spray painted on the left side with red paint. Deputy Greg LaRochelle responded and found Similar vandalism in two different locations on the nearby roadway.

Shortly thereafter, Deputy LaRochelle found more graffiti painted on three commercial vehicles at Sub Zero on Laguna Road, on a white trailer parked in the rear of the Holiday Inn Hotel, and on a blue trash bin and a piece of construction equipment in the same area. Waldorf Plaza at the 100 mile marker also had extensive graffiti painted on the rear of the building. In all cases, the graffiti was in red colored paint. In a number of locations, the word “JBLAZZ” was included in the graffiti.

On Saturday, Sheriff’s deputies took a group of jail inmates on a work detail and painted over all the damaged areas at the plaza.

The damage to all the locations was extensive enough to constitute a felony charge of criminal mischief. Anyone who has information about this damage should call the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 305-853-3211. Callers may also report their information to Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip to Crime Stoppers results in an arrest, 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.

Traffic congestion alert: Islamorada

If you plan to do any traveling in or through the area of Islamorada this weekend, this is a reminder: there will most likely be traffic delays in the vicinity of Founder’s Park in Islamorada due to the Rotary Nautical Flea Market taking place on Saturday and Sunday.

The annual event is expected to cause traffic delays between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on both days. These delays will be compounded by the Snake Creek draw bridge, which will continue to open on the hour, each hour to allow boat traffic through.

Officers will be assigned to the area to assist with both traffic and pedestrian control.

Plan plenty of extra time if you have to travel through the area of Founder’s Park, at the 87 mile marker of highway U.S. One.

February 17, 2014

Skeletal remains found off College Road

Stock Island - Sheriff's detectives say skeletal remains of a man were found in a wooded area off College Road today.

The bones have been turned over to the Medical Examiner so he can attempt to discover more about who the dead man is and how he may have died. The body was about 10 feet into a wooded area across from Gerald Adams School. Detectives say the body may have been there for months. There was no obvious signs of foul play upon initial examination of the body and the surrounding area.

A bag with belongings in it and possible identifying documents - including a Florida driver's license - was found nearby. The driver's license is not from Monroe County. A closer examination of the body will be necessary, however, to determine if the body is, indeed, the same person as the person depicted on the license.

Deputy Vicki Lockwood-Fleck responded to the area at about 10 a.m. after a man called Sheriff's dispatchers to report seeing the bones there. Major Crimes Detective Lissette Zuelch also responded and will be investigating the case along with the Medical Examiner.

February 13, 2014

Teen charged with sexual battery

A 16 year old Marathon teen was arrested Tuesday, charged with sexual battery on another teen.

16 year old John Qualls is accused of forcing another 16 year old boy to perform oral sex on him. The incident took place at Quall’s home on 74th Street the night of February 8th. He is also accused of holding the victim against his will by locking the doors of the house. The victim told Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo Qualls threatened to kill him or hurt him if he told anyone, put his hands around the victim’s neck on several occasions during the attack and struck him in the face several times.

Qualls was arrested and charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and battery. He is currently in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

February 12, 2014

Detective needs help identifying fraud suspects

Marathon Detective Nick Whiteman needs the public’s assistance identifying suspects in a credit card fraud case.

 A Marathon man reported  someone used his credit card number to make numerous fraudulent charges. He said he checked his account on January 27th and discovered the fraud. Detective Whiteman was assigned to investigate. He discovered suspects used the credit card number to make 23 separate charges at various locations in the Miami area for a total of $6,600.

Detective Whiteman contacted a number of the different places where the card number was used and was able to obtain photos of the suspects that used it. He also learned the suspects could be driving an older model dark colored Ford two door truck.
Anyone who recognizes one of the suspects in these photos should contact Detective Whiteman at 305-289-2430 or nwhiteman@keysso.net. Callers can also call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. A Crime Stoppers tipster whose information leads to an arrest in the case 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.

February 11, 2014

Detectives need help finding jewelry owner

Lower Keys Detective Dave Chavka would like help identifying the owner of jewelry recovered in the vicinity of Little Torch Key.

Deputies recovered the jewelry while responding to a call on Little Torch Key on January 28th. Detectives believe the jewelry may have been stolen and not reported, perhaps in the Ramrod or Little Torch Key area. Anyone who finds they are missing some jewelry can contact Detective Chavka for more information, 305-292-7060.

A description of the jewelry is not being released so that when someone calls to claim it, the detective will be able to use that information to determine who the true owner is.

February 10, 2014

Retirement ceremony for flags

The Sheriff’s Office participated in a retirement ceremony for worn American flags put on by Boy Scout Troop 588 in the Upper Keys. Here is Sgt. Jason Madnick with members of the troop.

Sheriff helps with beautification project

Sheriff Rick Ramsay, participating in the “Urban Forestry Project”
on 33rd Street in Marathon earlier this month.

Sheriff's Office participates in nuclear plant drill

Members of the Sheriff’s Office participated both Thursday and Friday in a Turkey Point Nuclear Plant drill.
Lt. Al Ramirez and Sgt. Dawn Leird.

Lt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff

February 8, 2014

Big Coppitt man arrested in stabbing

A 27 year old Big Coppitt Key man is under arrest, accused of stabbing a Sugarloaf Key man. The victim is in critical condition at a Miami hospital.

The victim, 30 year old Yunior Carrazana, was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for treatment of life-threatening wounds to his upper torso.

According to 22 year old Dayanet Portal, she and suspect Ramon Sanchez separated from their relationship about a month and a half or two months ago. She said they have a child together and Sanchez had the child for the weekend. She said Sanchez called her because the child was sick. While they were on the phone, he began asking who she was with. She said she refused to answer because she was afraid of how he would react.

She said about 1:30 in the morning Saturday, she and the victim and her two other children were at her home on Avenue A on Big Coppitt Key. She said she and Carrazana were in her room talking when she heard something. She said suddenly Sanchez entered the bedroom holding a large knife. She said first he attacked her, stabbing at her with the knife and striking her several times with his hands. When Carranza got up to defend her, the suspect attacked Carrazana, stabbing him in the arm and multiple times in the upper torso.

He reportedly held the two in the room, and refused to allow them to leave or call for help for about 15 minutes. He finally told them they could call police, and he left the house.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they put a notice out over radios to look for the suspects truck, a silver Dodge RAM pickup. The truck was stopped by Deputies Ian Cooper and Wendy Negron a short time later at the 6 mile marker of the Highway. The suspect was inside the truck, and the knife detectives believe he used to stab the suspect was found in the back seat, still covered in blood.

Sanchez refused to give a statement and he was arrested. He was booked into jail on multiple felony charges including attempted murder, aggravated battery, false imprisonment, obstruction, domestic battery, and burglary with battery on the occupant. The victim is in critical condition at the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami. Detective Spenser Bryan is the investigator assigned to the case.

Convicted felon faces weapon charge

A Naranja, Florida man convicted of six past felonies was arrested in Key Largo today for possession of a handgun.

Deputy Tim Hunsberger was flagged down by a driver just before 5 a.m. on State Road 905. The driver said he was traveling southbound on Card Sound Road and was followed very closely by a car. He said the car flashed it s high beams at him continuously and tailgated him for miles.

He said he went through the toll booth and drove over the Card Sound Bridge with the vehicle still following. He said suddenly the vehicle turned off its lights and turned off the roadway at the south end of the bridge. He said he was concerned because of the erratic driving.

Deputy Hunsberger responded to the area and found a silver Nissan Altima parked in that area. There was a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the car. There were five people in the car. The deputy saw what looked like a handgun in the back seat. He called for backup and began investigating the circumstances. Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse arrived as back up officer a short time later.

The handgun Deputy Hunsberger spotted in the back seat turned out to be a toy, however he subsequently found a real, loaded handgun under the passenger side seat. The handgun, a Springfield XD-40 semi-automatic handgun, was located directly in front of passenger 47 year old Darin James. James subsequently admitted the gun was his. He said a friend gave it to him earlier in the evening. A check on the gun revealed it was reported stolen. Marijuana was also found in the car, which James also claimed was his.

A check on James  history revealed six felony convictions, including sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine and three separate cases for robbery, one for robbery with a deadly weapon. James was arrested and charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm and possession of marijuana. He was booked into jail. The others in the car were released.

Search warrant on Stock Island

Stock Island - A search warrant was served Friday morning in a Stock Island residence.

The Sheriff s Special Weapons and Tactics team performed the initial entry to the residence. Detectives from the Special Investigations Unit, along with Lower Keys Criminal Investigations detectives and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration then served the warrant at B-7 8th Avenue, on Stock Island.  Inside the residence detectives found 22 year old Julian L. Barger, 39 year old Jesus R. Paoli and 23 year old Samantha Romeo.

The search of the residence turned up approximately 2 grams of powder cocaine, sixteen Xanax pills, two Soma pills, 21 grams of Marijuana and several items of drug paraphernalia.  Barger and Romeo were charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of cocaine and marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Paoli was charged with tampering with evidence after detectives received information he had destroyed some of the evidence prior to detectives entering the premises.

Barger, Paoli and Romeo were were all booked into jail.

February 7, 2014

Race expected to impact traffic in the Lower Keys

The Ragnar Relay Race takes place today and tomorrow and expected to most impact Keys traffic in the Lower Keys all day on Saturday. The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone who plans any highway travel on Saturday to be aware and to plan extra time for their trip. The most impact will be to southbound traffic, but northbound traffic will most likely slow as well as runners cross the road at designated locations and as drivers slow down to look at the runners.

The race  is comprised of 500 teams with 12 runners for each team. Each team has two support vans where the team members ride when they aren’t running. At any given time, each team has one runner on the roadway and two vans traveling between designated “exchange” points where runners are swapped.

In the Upper Keys and through much of Marathon, the impact is expected to be minimal because there are more locations where runners can easily remain off the roadway and where runner exchanges can be done away from traffic areas.

The most impact will most likely begin to occur when runners reach the exchange point at Marathon Airport, which will be in the early morning hours on Saturday. The first runner is projected by race organizers to reach the airport at 2:40 a.m. The last runner will most likely leave the Marathon airport at 11:40 a.m. Peak time at the airport for runners to be exchanged at that location will be around 7 a.m.

Exchange points will be set up at the following locations:
  • South of the 7 Mile Bridge (first runner: 4:24 a.m.    last runner: 1:25 p.m.   peak time: 9:46 a.m. )
  • Big Pine Key, where runners will cross the road at the highway light  (first runner: 5:58 a.m.    last runner:  2:47 p.m.  peak time:  11:11 a.m. )
  • Mako Drive, Ramrod Key, where runners will cross the highway  (first runner: 6:38 a.m.   last runner:  3:24 p.m.  peak time:  11:15 a.m.)
  • Blimp Road, Cudjoe Key where runners will cross the highway  (first runner: 7:42 a.m.    last runner: 4:39 p.m.   peak time: 1:28 p.m. )
  • Sugarloaf School on Crane Boulevard, Sugarloaf Key, where runners will cross the highway  (first runner: 7:42 a.m.    last runner: 4:39 p.m.   peak time:  1:22 p.m.)
  • Bay Point  (first runner:  8:25 a.m.  last runner:  5:24 p.m.  peak time: 2:25 p.m. )
  • Saddle Bunch Keys  (first runner: 8:41 a.m.   last runner: 5:41 p.m.   peak time:  2:34 p.m. )
  • Big Coppitt Key – just north of the Fire Station. Runners will cross the roadway.  (first runner: 9:03 a.m.   last runner: 6:10 p.m.   peak time:  2:59 p.m. )

 At each exchange point, deputies will be on hand to make sure vans are pulled off the highway and not impeding traffic. They will also assist runners to cross the roadway when necessary, and the crossing will be accomplished taking in to consideration traffic flow. They will not be stopping traffic for every runner.

“We ask everyone to be patient this weekend and plan extra time for their travel,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We have worked extensively with race organizers in an effort to improve the flow of traffic and to keep the impact of the race at a minimum, but with this many runners and this many support vehicles there is just no way to avoid delays.”

February 4, 2014

Key Largo patrol squad stops commercial vehicles

(Photos taken by Sgt. Tom Kiffney)

An Upper Keys road patrol squad spent time today stopping commercial vehicles in Key Largo to make sure they are complying with all laws and had appropriate safety equipment.

Sgt. Tom Kiffney and his patrol deputies stopped 27 commercial vehicles during a 90 minute period at the 104 mile marker of the highway. Of those vehicles stopped, 22 warnings were issued for defective equipment; two citations were written for defective equipment and five verbal warnings were given.

In addition to safety equipment, deputies checked all drivers licenses, insurance cards and all other required paperwork for such vehicles.

Detective asks for help identifying suspects

Detective Trevor Wirth is asking for help identifying two suspects who stole a bank bag with cash inside from Dion’s Quikmart at 6203 Overseas Highway in Marathon January 28th.

 At 6:45 p.m., the clerk at Dion’s discovered a bank bag missing from a safe in the store. He called the Sheriff’s Office to report the theft, and checked surveillance cameras to see what happened.

The cameras showed two men walking in the store. One stood near the counter, looking at DVDs and reading a pamphlet. He could be seen glancing over the counter at the partially open safe. The second man approached the counter and spoke with the clerk. The clerk then walked out from behind the counter to talk with the second man, turning his back to the counter.

When the clerk turned his back, the first suspect went behind the counter, ducked down and removed the bank bag from inside the safe. He then walked out the front door, followed a short time later by the second suspect.

Photos were captured from the surveillance video, showing the two men. Detective Wirth is hoping someone will recognize them and call the Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-289-2430. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip 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 at www.tipsubmit.com.

Community partner recongnized

Publix in Key Largo received a Community Partner certificate for donation of food and refreshments for those cleaning up a wooded area off of Sampson Road recently. Left to right, Lt. Al Ramirez, Captain Don Fanelli, Assistant Manager Vivian Delatorre and Sheriff Rick Ramsay. 

Community partner recognized

Marlin Building Contractors were awarded a certificate by Sheriff Rick Ramsay for being a great Community Partner. They assisted with a recent clean up in Key Largo on Sampson Road by contributing large equipment and personnel to the effort. In the photo on the left, owners Jeannette and JR Silvestri with manager James Brookman. On the right, Sheriff Ramsay, Captain Don Fanelli and Lt. Al Ramirez.

District One Inspection

District One underwent their annual inspection recently. Captain Don Hiller and Lt. Donnie Elomina were joined by Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Major Lou Caputo as they inspected vehicles, uniforms and weapons to make sure they were all clean, sharp and in working order. Major Caputo even brought along some Q-tips to make sure gun barrels were squeaky clean. Afterward, they all enjoyed a meal prepared by the Lower Keys detectives, including roast pork, black beans and rice.

Farm at Marathon Family Fun Fest

Farmer Jeanne Selander and her animals traveled to the Marathon Family Fun Fest and they were a huge hit will all the kids at the event. Chanel the skunk, a new addition to the farm, stole the show!

Yet another illegal encampment removed...

Before and after photos of the removal of an illegal encampment at the 93 mm today. Lt. Patrick Major helped FWC Officer Dan Castillo with the project, along with Deputy Dahlgren Marks, Sgt. Juan Morales and jail trustees.

February 3, 2014

Detectives continue investigating Soca family

Detectives continued with their investigation into the drug activities of a Stock Island family, with more searches taking place over the weekend.

Search warrants were served at two trailers occupied by the Soca family on 6th Street on Stock Island last week; a search warrant was served at a storage shed and on three boats belonging to the Soca family. Those searches were completed late Saturday. So far, the following illegal substances were found:
  •      10 kilos of cocaine
  •       7.5 grams of crack  cocaine
  •      961 grams of marijuana
  •      Approximately 2,100 Xanax bars
  •      Approximately 1,300 Oxycodone pills
  •     Approximately 700 short lobster tails

In addition, detectives found and seized $252,261 in cash believed to be proceeds from drug sales.

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.

February 1, 2014

Key Largo man wanted for raping teen, arrested in North Carolina

A Key Largo man was arrested in North Carolina in the early morning hours today by U.S. Marshals. He is wanted for repeatedly raping a Key Largo teen and for threatening her with a knife and a gun on multiple occasions to force her to comply with the sexual activity.

41 year old Marcus Elias Hammer was picked up in a hotel in Dunn, North Carolina in the early morning hours. He will be returned to Monroe County to face charges which include eight counts armed sexual battery, possession of material depicting a sexual performance by a child and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The teen victim reported the abuse to a school resource officer who called in the Sheriff s Major Crimes Unit to investigate. Detectives Deborah Ryan and Lissette Zuelch were assigned to the case. The abuse reportedly took place over the past two years. During that time, Hammer repeatedly threatened the victim and said he would harm her family members and friends if she didn t comply. After interviewing the victim and several witnesses, the detectives obtained warrants for his arrest.

Hammer fled the area before he could be arrested. Detectives received information about where he was and notified the U.S. Marshal s Service, asking them for assistance in apprehending him.