June 29, 2014

Deputies bust “rolling meth lab”

Two men were arrested early Saturday, charged with possession and manufacturing of methamphetamine. They were operating what detectives described as a “rolling meth lab” in a van.

Detectives in the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit received information the men might be making and selling methamphetamine in the Stock Island area in an old van. They passed the information on to road patrol deputies asking them to be on the lookout for the illegal operation.

Deputy Sean Moran and Reserve Deputy Jon Doughtry were in the area of the Tom Thumb convenience store on Stock Island at 1:20 a.m. They spotted an old van with its back doors open, two men were standing behind the van. As they pulled up in their patrol car, one of the men threw something into a nearby dumpster. It turned out to be a pill bottle with someone else’s name on it; it had 64 pills inside that were later identified as Risperidone.

Sgt. Evan Calhoun responded and asked permission to search the van. The van’s registered owner, 47 year old John Day, gave his permission to search. Inside the van the officers found marijuana and numerous items, including various chemicals and bottles of liquid, which are commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine. Detectives from the Special Investigations Unit responded and confirmed it appeared the men had been operating a “rolling meth lab”.

The Drug Enforcement Administration was notified and responded to assist with handling the dangerous chemicals and other substances in the van. Day and 24 year old Scott Gunter were both arrested. They were both charged with production and manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Gunter was also charged with possession of marijuana. Both were booked into jail.

Two men were arrested early Saturday, charged with possession and manufacturing of methamphetamine. They were operating what detectives described as a “rolling meth lab” in a van.

Detectives in the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit received information the men might be making and selling methamphetamine in the Stock Island area in an old van. They passed the information on to road patrol deputies asking them to be on the lookout for the illegal operation.

Deputy Sean Moran and Reserve Deputy Jon Doughtry were in the area of the Tom Thumb convenience store on Stock Island at 1:20 a.m. They spotted an old van with its back doors open, two men were standing behind the van. As they pulled up in their patrol car, one of the men threw something into a nearby dumpster. It turned out to be a pill bottle with someone else’s name on it; it had 64 pills inside that were later identified as Risperidone.

Sgt. Evan Calhoun responded and asked permission to search the van. The van’s registered owner, 47 year old John Day, gave his permission to search. Inside the van the officers found marijuana and numerous items, including various chemicals and bottles of liquid, which are commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine. Detectives from the Special Investigations Unit responded and confirmed it appeared the men had been operating a “rolling meth lab”.


The Drug Enforcement Administration was notified and responded to assist with handling the dangerous chemicals and other substances in the van. Day and 24 year old Scott Gunter were both arrested. They were both charged with production and manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Gunter was also charged with possession of marijuana. Both were booked into jail.

June 27, 2014

Missing man’s body recovered

A missing Marathon man’s body has been recovered from the water near Pigeon Key this morning.

Detectives say 70 year old Jim Pierce left a note at his residence which was found by his girlfriend Wednesday night. The note indicated he planned to go to the Old Seven Mile Bridge to commit suicide. At about the same time as she called the Sheriff’s Office to report finding the note, someone called from the bridge to report finding a pair of shoes and a loaded revolver on the bridge.

This morning at 8 a.m. the Sheriff’s Office received a call from someone on the bridge who’d spotted a body floating near Pigeon Key between the old and new Seven Mile Bridges. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded and recovered the body and brought it to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Marathon.

Sheriff’s detectives from the Major Crimes Unit responded to meet with  a representative from the Medical Examiner’s Office at the Coast Guard Station. They were able to confirm that the body was, indeed, Pierce’s body.


Initial examination of the body indicates injuries which would be consistent with a self inflicted gunshot wound. An autopsy will be done to confirm the cause of his death.

June 26, 2014

Marathon man missing, possible suicide

A 70 year old Marathon man is missing, and detectives say he may have committed suicide. He left a note at his residence which was found by his girlfriend. The note said he was going to the old Seven Mile Bridge to kill himself. His shoes and a loaded revolver were found on the old bridge.

The Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are out on the water this morning searching for 70 year old Jim Pierce, who owns Marine Power Systems in Marathon.

The girlfriend, Jacquelyn Setmayer, called the Sheriff’s Office just before 9 p.m. Wednesday after finding the note. Dispatchers received a separate call at about the same time about a gun and a pair of shoes found by people on the bridge. Deputies and detectives responded to the bridge where they met with Setmayer and recovered the shoes and gun.


Investigations into the incident are continuing. 

June 25, 2014

Graffiti removal on Stock Island

Deputies Ian Cooper and Andrew Hudson, removing graffiti from several locations on Stock Island.

Marathon graffiti removal

 Deputies James Hager and Gil Gonzalez spent a little time recently painting out graffiti at the 33rd Street boat ramp in Marathon.


Key Largo cleanup

 Thanks to everyone who helped with out clean up in Key Largo on Monday. We really made a difference with this community effort. Here are a few pictures. Thanks to Sgt. Tom Kiffney for taking them!




June 24, 2014

Arrests for burglary, weapon charges, drugs

A Marathon man was arrested Monday morning, charged with burglary and making threats with brass knuckles which also act as an electric weapon similar in function to a Taser. A second man was arrested on drug charges.

The victim told Deputy Brad Colen he was in his workshop in the area of Sylvia Avenue in Marathon at 7:30 a.m. when 39 year old Enrique Valdes walked in. The victim told Valdes to leave the shop. Valdes refused, using profane language. Valdes told the victim he would kill him, then pulled out a black colored device with a red light on it. The victim said he heard a zapping noise and recognized that Valdes had some sort of electric weapon.

Valdes left the shop and the victim called the Sheriff’s Office for help. When Deputy Colen arrived, he found several men, including the victim and suspect, still on the scene. Valdes was taken into custody. The weapon he used to threaten the victim was found hidden under a vehicle nearby. Valdes was charged with burglary with assault on the occupant, tampering with evidence and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

While investigating the weapon offense, deputies found several different types of drugs and drug paraphernalia. The items were in a bedroom located inside a nearby business. The bedroom belonged to 62 year old John Faella, who was on the scene with Valdes.


Faella had cocaine, marijuana and hash in his bedroom, along with numerous items of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested on numerous drug related charges and booked into jail along with Valdes.

June 20, 2014

Spanish Harbor bridge graffiti covered



Spanish Harbor Bridge got a new coat of paint over this unsightly graffiti. Thanks to ICA for their prompt response to the graffiti report. Thanks to FDOT’s Patty Ivey for her help in arranging for the removal effort.

Graffiti painted over, Tea Table Bridge

This and some other areas of unsightly graffiti under the Tea Table Bridge in Islamorada were covered over thanks to efforts by Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni.

Switlik School clean up effort

 Clean up efforts behind Switlik School were successful this past weekend. The area behind the school had become overgrown and several homeless people had begun to move into the area. Now it is clean, and no longer overgrown. Much safer for our kids! Thanks to Sgt. Dennis Coleman for organizing the effort.


Cleaning up on and around Big Pine Key

 Deputy Linda Kohout and Citizen Police Academy ride-a-long Patti Ivey tackled three areas in the Lower Keys that needed cleaning: behind a Big Pine business, the south end of the Seven Mile Bridge and oceanside of North Pine Channel Bridge. They hauled away lots of debris with the help of ICA crews who assisted.


Deputies talk to kids

Sgt. Dennis Coleman and Dep. Abraham Vallejo spoke recently to kids at Kreative Kids Christian Academy about law enforcement officers.

Injured bird rescued

Reserve Deputy Audriana Lawson with an injured bird. The bird was turned over to Key West Bird Center for care.

Key Largo clean up on Monday


June 19, 2014

Two arrested for stealing boat

Two men were arrested after they stole a boat from behind a Tavernier home, took it for a ride and wound up grounding it on flats just offshore Wednesday afternoon.

Sgt. Dawn Leird responded to a call on Blue Harbor Drive in Tavernier just before 5 p.m. after neighbors in that area reported a boat was grounded just offshore with two men on board. When Sgt. Leird arrived, one of the men had climbed off the boat and was no longer in sight. The second man was trying to push the 23 foot Sea Pro off the flats it was grounded on. 31 year old Alvaro Tato of Sunrise, Florida came to shore and told the sergeant the boat belonged to his friend, 49 year old Carlos DeCosta of Boca Raton.

Just then, DeCosta came into sight, paddling a kayak and yelling to Tato. DeCosta told Sgt. Leird he took the boat from the back of a house on East Beach Road. He said he just took it for a ride and was going to return it. He said he did not have permission to use the boat. He said the keys were on board and he was going to bring it right back. DeCosta said he took the kayak from the same residence.

The owner of the boat was located in Hialeah. The owner said no one had permission to use his boat or his kayak.

Both men were arrested and charged with two counts of grand theft. They were booked into jail. The boat was towed off the flats. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be assessing the damage done during the grounding of the vessel.

June 16, 2014

Sheriff’s Office remembers deputy killed in traffic accident

This week the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office remembers a Sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty four years ago in a traffic accident.


On June 22, 2010 Deputy Melissa “Missy” Powers was killed in a traffic accident in Key Largo as she was responding to assist a fellow officer. Deputy Powers was hired by the Sheriff’s Office in 2006  as a road patrol deputy. She previously worked for the Florida Department of Corrections. 

Two new sergeant promotions

 Sheriff Ramsay promoted two Sheriff’s Office detention members to sergeant last week. Here are pictures of newly promoted Sgt. Rebecca Roberts and newly promoted Sgt. Thomas Careaga. Congratulations!

Islamorada cleanup


Islamorada had it’s quarterly Adopt a Highway clean up this week with the above group showing up to help.  During the clean up, Sheriff Rick Ramsay was interviewed by Miami Herald reporter Cammy Clark (left) about his efforts to keep the county clean and safe. The article appeared in the Miami Herald Thursday. It can be viewed on line at the Miami Herald website. A link can be found on our blog at floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com.

Community service can be large or small

Small things can make a difference. Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni noticed an issue at an Islamorada intersection. One of the stop lines was set too far back and pedestrians and cyclists couldn’t see vehicles stopped at the stop sign. After witnessing a few close calls, he got Islamorada Public Works involved and they moved the stop line forward three feet. Great job, Mike!

Traffic stop ends in stolen boat recovery

A sharp eyed deputy stopped a truck towing a boat on a trailer in the early morning hours Saturday after he noticed the trailer had no functioning tail lights. He wound up recovering a stolen boat and trailer and arresting the driver.

The truck was northbound from the 97 mile marker in Key Largo at 3:45 a.m. when Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe stopped it for no tail lights. As he stopped it, he further noticed the license tag had duct tape on it obscuring the numbers and that the trailer appeared to have been attached to the truck in a hurry because the tow chains and wiring harness were not connected.

He found the driver of the Chevrolet truck, 38 year old Giovanny Lluis of Miami, had a suspended driver’s license so he arrested Lluis. Further investigation by Detective Sgt. Mark Coleman later in the day led to the identification of the boat’s owner, who lives in Miami. The owner said he keeps his boat in Key Largo and no one had permission to take it. He said the 2003 26 foot Hydra Sport with twin 200 HP engines on it is valued at $30,000.


Lluis was charged with grand theft and driving with license suspended. He was booked into jail.

Two caught stealing bales of cardboard

Two men from Miami-Dade County were caught in the act of stealing bales of cardboard from a Marathon business in the early morning hours Sunday.

Sgt. Joel Slough was on patrol at 3 a.m. Sunday when he saw a box truck backed into the rear alley behind K-Mart in Marathon. As he pulled up to check on it, he saw two men disappear from sight, hiding behind large bales of cardboard stacked in the alley.

The two men were detained. An investigation revealed some stacks of boxes had already been loaded into the box truck.

The manager of K-Mart responded to the scene. He said the men did not have permission to take the cardboard. He said they contract with a company to take the bales to a recycling center and usually get about $250 – 300 for each bale.


 39 year old Mario Ortiz and 34 year old Elieser Hernandez were both arrested. They were charged with grand theft. The truck was seized for possible forfeiture.

June 12, 2014

If you see or hear something suspicious, call us!

Crime Prevention tip: If you see something even remotely suspicious in your neighborhood, call us!

Here is a real world example of a crime which might have been prevented and suspects that could have been identified and caught!

We received a report of a burglary in the Upper Keys. The doors to the residence had been kicked in and many items were stolen. When we began investigating, we found a neighbor who said he heard a truck pull up in the middle of the night. He saw men with flashlights get out of the truck and walk down the street. He then heard the same truck leave an hour and a half later.

We can't know for sure these were suspects who committed the burglary, although we are investigating the case. However, if this neighbor had called us when he heard the truck and saw the men, we could have responded, stopped them and identified them. This could have prevented the burglary all together and, if the crime still took place, we would have the identities of possible suspects to help our investigation. I'm sure this neighbor wishes he'd called and will call if anything similar happens in the future.

PLEASE CALL US WHEN YOU SEE OR HEAR SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD! We would rather prevent a crime from happening than investigate one after the fact.

Miami Herald profiles Sheriff's clean up efforts

Fantastic story in the Miami Herald this morning about the Sheriff's Office efforts to keep our county cleaner and safer.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/11/4172886/keys-sheriff-rick-ramsay-on-mission.html#

June 11, 2014

Second yellowtail theft suspect arrested

A second suspect was arrested by Detective Dave Chavka today in connection with the theft of 400 pounds of yellowtail from a boat docked at Sea Lobster May 31st. The 15 year old Stock Island boy was charged with burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

See previous story for details of the crime.

Detectives arrest one for yellowtail theft; more arrests pending

Detectives have made one arrest in connection with the theft of 400 pounds of yellowtail stolen from a fishing boat on Stock Island. More arrests are pending.

The victim says he came in to the marina on May 30th with a full load of about 4,000 pounds of fish. He said the docks were very busy and he could not unload the fish that day, so he went home to see his family. He said he thought his fish would be safe because he knew someone was sleeping on a boat docked next to his. When he returned early the next morning, he found about 400 pounds of his fish missing and he called the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigations revealed two possible suspects – a 14 year old boy and a 15 year old boy, both of whom live at Stock Island Apartments. In an interview, the 14 year old told Detective Dave Chavka he and his friend used five gallon buckets to steal the fish. They made seven trips on their bicycles to the boat, docked at Sea Lobster marina. They loaded their buckets with fish and took the fish to a nearby trailer park where they sold the fish to park residents for cash – they sold each bucket for $20 and made a total of $360 which they split between them. The stolen fish was valued at $1,200.

The 14 year old was charged with burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property. More arrests are pending.

Detective Chavka says during the course of his investigation of this crime he has received information this type of criminal activity may be an ongoing issue. He received a second report of 50 pounds of fish stolen the following night. He identified a possible suspect in that crime as a 12 year old boy from Stock Island and is continuing that investigation as well. He has also received numerous reports from others around the marina area that they’ve had fish stolen in the past; witnesses have told him they’ve seen young boys around the docks carrying buckets of fish. Detective Chavka says he is looking for anyone who has information about this activity to call him. He is also looking for information from people who may have purchased fish on the streets from possible theft suspects.


Anyone with such information should contact the Lower Keys Criminal Investigative Unit at 305-292-7060. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters who call Crime Stoppers with information will be eligible for a cash reward if their tip leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.

June 6, 2014

Painting out graffiti

 Graffiti doesn’t have long to live in Monroe County! Here are Deputies James Hager, Wilfredo Guerra painting out some graffiti on a guard rail. On the right, community member Sue Harrison joins in the effort to keep our community clean.


Hurricane awareness event in Marathon

 The Sheriff’s Office was well represented at a Hurricane Awareness event at Home Depot in Marathon recently. Lt. Derek Paul, Deputy Chuck Kellenberger, Sgt. Dennis Coleman and Captain Gene Thompson were all there to talk to citizens about what to do when a storm approaches.

New Junior Deputies!

A large group of Switlik School students were deputized as official Jr. Deputies recently while they were visiting Higgs Beach in Key West by Deputies Josh Gordon and John McGee.


June 4, 2014

Key Largo clean up Monday

Key Largo residents: the Rotary Club of Key Largo will be holding it's quarterly Adopt-a-Highway clean up Monday, June 9th at 5:30 p.m. Meeting place is Circle K at the 106 mile marker in the east parking lot. Volunteers are welcome to come join them and members of the Sheriff's Office as they keep their community clean!

June 3, 2014

Three Miami men cited for out of season, undersized lobster


Three men from Miami were caught with undersized out of season lobster, some of them illegally speared on Saturday.

Deputies Wilfredo Guerra and James Hager were in the area of Duck Key at 6 p.m. when they spotted the men snorkeling without a dive flag at the 60 mile marker of the highway, on the Oceanside. They watched them until they got to shore. At that time, the deputies and FWC Officers Munkelt and Cox made contact with them.

A bag was found on shore with 14 lobster inside. After interviewing the men, 27 more lobster were recovered from a cooler in their car. Many of them were undersized and had been speared illegally.

All three men were issued notices to appear in court for the violations. They are identified as:

Yoerlandy Rodriguez Gonzalez, 28, of Miami
Lazaro Licort Rodriguez, 30, of Hialeah

Dariel Gonzalez Tan, 21, of Medley

Help clean up Key Largo

For you Upper Keys folks who want to participate in our clean up activities:

We are holding a clean up on Monday, June 23rd starting at 8:30 a.m. The meeting place is the K-Mart shopping Center in Key Largo. The area to be cleaned up is around the shopping center, along U.S. one and on Sampson Road.

This clean up is being planned in response to the County Commission's recent Clean Up Key Largo initiative, and with the help of the Key Largo Federation of Homeowners.

Bring gloves and water. We will supply garbage bags. Let's keep Key Largo clean!!!

If you have questions, contact the Sheriff's Office at 305-853-3211.

Come help us clean up behind Switlik School


June 2, 2014

Cart returned

This errant shopping card somehow wound up six miles away from its home at the Dollar Tree. Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni made sure it was returned to the place it belonged instead of cluttering up this nice neighborhood.

Marathon graffiti removed


Sgt. Joel Slough has been busy scrubbing Marathon clean. He cleaned graffiti like this in several areas of the city just using some elbow grease and cleanser. Keep up the good work, Joel!

Cleaning up after Memorial Day

Lots of visitors bring lots of trash, as we all know. Lt. Patrick Major was out last week cleaning up in Islamorada after the Memorial Day holiday weekend with a few trustees.

Group runs in Marathon triathlon

This Sheriff's Office group participated in the annual Maratri - Marathon Triathlon - held at Sombrero Beach Saturday. The race raises money for youth athletics and health awareness for young people.

Looking good! Left to right, Nelson Sanchez, Mark Coleman, Shannon Davis, Vince Weiner, Dennis Coleman, Gene Thompson and Nat Whitehouse.

Hundreds of pounds of fish stolen from Stock Island

A fisherman told Sheriff’s deputies someone stole hundreds of pounds of yellowtail from his fishing boat docked at a Stock Island marina overnight between Friday and Saturday.

The victim said he docked his boat at Sea Lobster late Friday and went home for the night, leaving his catch – an estimated 400 pounds of fish - on his vessel. He said a friend of his was sleeping on a smaller vessel tied up to his boat, so he thought it was OK to leave. When he returned at 6 a.m. the following day, his fish were gone. His friend said he didn’t hear anything during the night.


Detectives will be investigating the theft.