A Marathon trap fisherman accused of using dozens of untagged traps apparently fled to Cuba following a two-month investigation into illegal lobster fishing, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the State Attorney’s Office.
FWC officers served a warrant on Nov. 4 after surveilling the vessel, said FWC officer Bobby Dube.
In all, 19 untagged traps were fished, according to the FWC. Some traps were also improperly numbered, records state. A mate aboard the vessel — Juan Miguel Exposito-Carralero, 46 — was charged with 71 misdemeanor counts of fishing illegal traps when FWC officers converged on the vessel after it was returning to port, said Assistant State Attorney Christina Cory.
The captain that the FWC had been targeting, Ricardo Hernandez, 52, was not on the vessel at the time and happened to be in Cuba, Dube said. It does not appear he fled, but he left before the warrant was served, Cory added.