MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A judge sentenced three people to probation and made them forfeit their boat for poaching almost 100 lobsters in Miami-Dade County last year.READ MORE: There's Been An Increase In Phishing Scams During Pandemic
“The court will stand by its order for the forfeiture of the vessel ‘El Donny,'” the judge said in court Tuesday.
Besides losing “El Donny,” Donny Caridad Gonzalez, Nemesio Gonzalez Garcia and Josefina Diaz Garcia each got three years of probation and had to pay a fine of $358.
The three were arrested back in May 2015 after officials said they discovered the group illegally had 87 wrung lobster tails. Of those, they said 66 tails were undersized, according to officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
FWC said that during a routine safety inspection on board the “El Donny,” officers saw a lobster shell inside a crab trap. The boat owner said that no lobster were on the vessel.
While inspecting the engine room, an officer noticed a plastic bag stashed behind some engine equipment. The bag, and four others, had all the lobster tails.READ MORE: 1 Dead, 1 Wounded In Shooting At Tennessee High School
“These folks have a history with us committing violations. We take the means of attempting forfeitures,” FWC Maj. Alfredo Escanio said. “These individuals are repeat violators.”
Echoing Escanio’s words that they are repeat offenders, the state prosecutor drove home the reason for having the boat forfeited.
“Vessel forfeiture was the only way we could guarantee that these defendants would not continue violations further of resource violations,” the state prosecutor said.
But the defendants’ attorney argued their boat is a way of life.
“Depriving them of their means of the livelihood – making them destitute and depending on the state, because they will be able to get welfare benefits,” explained attorney Jose Sanchez.MORE NEWS: Coral Gables Books & Books Surviving Pandemic By Hosting Virtual Events That Fuel Online Sales
The lobsters were illegally caught as it was outside the regular lobster season, which is August 6th through March 31st. Also, during lobster season, lobsters must remain whole; separating tail from body before bringing ashore is prohibited.