Three jailed after being caught with 109 undersized lobsters in the Keys, police say

Gwen Filosa
·2 min read

Three Lower Keys residents were jailed Friday after state fish and wildlife police said they were found with more than 100 undersized lobsters and a haul of out-of-season stone crab claws.

Many of the crab claws were also undersized, police said.

Rigoberto Morales, 52, of Stock Island, was the captain on the ESPY vessel, which was headed into shore near Stock Island carrying the illegal catch when officers on patrol decided to check their catch, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Two crew members, Charles William Rahming, 27, of Key West, and Arlem Silva, 34, were also booked into the Stock Island Detention Center along with Morales on a number of charges.

FWC Officers Scott Smith and Lt. Roy Payne were on water patrol Friday and saw the EPSY. They followed the boat and conducted a dockside inspection at a fish house.

They found two old undersized, wrung lobster tails in the vessel’s forward anchor compartment, said FWC spokesman Officer Bobby Dube.

A more thorough check turned up 130 wrung lobster tails. Of those, 109 of the wrung tails were undersized. FWC said they also found 89 stone crab claws, of which 25 were undersized.

“The lobster tails and stone crab claws were hidden in a soaking wet black bag inside of the vessel’s cabin,” Dube said in a news release. “More charges are pending.”

FWC will work with the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office on the case, Dube said.

Dube said the three face felony charges because of the number of lobsters found.

“Anything over 100 is a felony,” Dube said.

Morales and Silva were released from jail Saturday without having to post bonds, according to sheriff’s office records.

On Monday, Rahming was still in the county jail on a $175,000 bond, jail records show.