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Local Lobster Mobster Gets 1 year And Banned From Water for 5 years

By Kevin Wadlow kwadlow@keynoter.com

A Miami man caught near Long Key with hundreds of lobster and a commercial trap-puller — but no commercial lobster licenses — was sentenced to a year in jail April 1.

Jorge Vargas Lobster Mobster
Jorge Vargas Lobster Mobster

Jorge Vargas, 59, also was fined $28,680 and banned from Florida Keys waters during a five-year probation term following his release, Monroe County State Attorney Catherine Vogel said Monday in a prepared statement.County Judge Ruth Becker imposed the sentence at the Marathon courthouse as marine law-enforcement officers and local commercial fishermen looked on.

Vargas already was known to marine officers when he was arrested last October with 267 wrung tails aboard his boat.

In addition to multiple conservation counts, including having a trap-pulling machine with no legal permits to own traps, Vargas was charged with having failed to appear in court from an October 2011 arrest when 332 illegally harvested lobsters were seized.

Vargas accepted a plea that imposes 364 days in jail for each case but the sentences will be served at the same time.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wilfredo Guerra made the Oct. 18, 2014, arrest off Long Key at 4 a.m. He saw Vargas pulling traps and separating lobster tails on the water, according to a Sheriff’s Office account. Lobster must be brought to shore in whole condition.

Counts filed by the State Attorney’s Office in that case included felony harvesting of commercial amounts of lobster without a commercial lobster license. He also was charged with misdemeanors for possessing separated tails on the water and undersized lobster.

In October 2011, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Lt. Liz Riesz and Sheriff’s Office Deputy Anthony O’Dea made a case against Vargas after he was seen returning to dock at Long Key aboard a boat running without lights.

A search of his catch revealed 332 wrung tails, of which 274 were below the legal size limit. Vargas also had nine stone-crab claws taken in a closed season.

“This sentencing demonstrates how strong working relationships with other agencies can help FWC protect natural resources in Florida,” FWC Capt. David Dipre said a statement released by the State Attorney’s Office.

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One thought on “Local Lobster Mobster Gets 1 year And Banned From Water for 5 years

  1. This guy illegally harvests 599 lobster tails (267 of which were undersized), and 9 stone claws out of season the 2 times he was caught, probably from the lobster traps of licensed commercial fishermen, and he gets ONE year in jail? This guy clearly has absolutely zero respect for ANY of the Florida (or federal) conservation laws, quite obviously has been doing this for MANY years, and MANY times per year – if not daily. Why was he not deported, shot and used as chum, or helped to disappear in the Everglades? What in the WORLD makes the presiding judge think this guy is going to stop now? And why is he EVER going to be allowed anywhere near the coast, or even a stock pond for that matter, ever again? People like this make me SICK! What sort of message does this send to other fishermen about regulations?

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