Two Marathon men busted in the Lower Keys for nearly 100 illegal lobster

July 12, 2014 

This is the illegal haul marine officers found in the Lower Keys. It was the second big lobster bust in the Keys the past week. The other happened July 5 near Big Coppitt Key.


A lobster-poaching arrest Thursday netted a local man who's already scheduled to face trial Monday on a poaching charge dating from 2011.

Sergio Gomez Lastra, 28, and Manuel Ruiz Lorenzo, 34, both of Marathon, were arrested by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers Thursday afternoon off Cudjoe Key.

The FWC reported recovering at least 96 lobster -- 95 wrung tails and one whole lobster -- taken during the closed season. Of those, 23 lobster apparently had been speared (illegal) and 25 were below the legal size limit.

Gomez Lastra was arrested in October 2011 on a felony count of molesting a crawfish trap. After years of discovery and postponements, that case was scheduled to start trial Monday before Acting Circuit Court Judge Ruth Becker.

Gomez Lastra has been ticketed three times previously in 2014, twice for not having a proper boat registration and once, on July 4, for not staying within 100 feet of a dive flag.

On Thursday near Sawyer Key, FWC Officer Dodd Bulger reported seeing a snorkeler later identified as Gomez Lastra toss several lobster tails into an 18-foot open fisherman boat operated by Ruiz Lorenzo.

As several officers approached the boat, Gomez Lastra pulled three bags out of the boat and dropped them underneath the boat, officers wrote. Lt. Roy Payne used snorkel gear to recover three bags holding wrung tails and a pole spear.

Both men were charged with possessing speared, separated and undersized lobster taken out of season. A count of interfering with wildlife officers also was lodged.

The boat and gear was seized for possible forfeiture. Both men were held without bond in the Monroe County jail at press time Friday.

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