Florida Keys

It’s not lobster season yet. That was a problem for this man, cops say

Jorge Alpuin Villafranca
Jorge Alpuin Villafranca

The Florida spiny lobster is off limits for now.

The two-day “mini season” is July 25-26, and the regular season starts Aug. 6 and lasts until March 31.

But a Northwest Miami-Dade man and his friends either didn’t know or care before they got busted with eight of the clawless, sought-after crustaceans Sunday afternoon near Duck Key, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Jorge Alpuin Villafranca, 23, was arrested on 19 conservation violations, including possessing lobsters out of season, possessing undersized lobsters and possessing undersized fish.

Six of the lobsters FWC officers found in his cooler were undersized. He also caught four gray snapper, two of which were undersized, and a spadefish, according to FWC Officer Brittany Mobley’s arrest report.

One of the lobsters had a hole in its carapace consistent with a spear tip.

Fish and Wildlife officers patrolling Tom’s Harbor Cut in the Middle Keys around 2:45 p.m. watched as Alpuin Villafranca and another man exited the water. Alpuin Villafranca was holding a speargun and the other man was holding a white bucket. They walked to a pickup truck on the side of U.S. 1 and emptied the bucket into a blue cooler in the bed of the truck, according to Mobley’s report.

Officers asked Alpuin Villafranca to open the cooler, but he said he did not want to. Officers opened the cooler after Mobley noticed a lobster antenna sticking out from beneath the lid, according to her report.

The other man and a woman with them were not arrested.

Alpuin Villafranca was released from Monroe County jail at 9 p.m. Sunday. His bond information was not immediately available.

A previous version of this story did not contain Jorge Alpuin Villafranca’s full name.