FWC: 4 busted in poaching operation
COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- A major marine-poaching operation was busted over the weekend.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say four men are facing charges for poaching, and selling illegal fish. Authorities say there are also more charges on the way.
FWC says they found hundreds of red grouper, Goliath grouper, grouper fillets, and even a dead sea turtle on board two boats, belonging to Naples men David Vazquez Acosta and Jorge Escalona. Adnier Lobaina Lopez and Jose Escalona Ferral were also arrested. FWC says the men were selling the fish out of their homes.
Officials say they’ve had their eye on the men for more than a year. They moved in on the men late Saturday night.
“The damage they have done to Florida’s natural resources is huge. They were in possession of an ungodly number of illegal species on board their vessel,” said FWC spokesperson Jorge Pino.
The catches were either protected species, over the limit, or undersized. According to FWC, the men did not have license for fishing or selling.
FWC says these arrests are just the start, and the investigation is far from over.