Florida Keys

Undersize lobster tails lead to oversize bond for jailed Miami man

The 267 wrung lobster are being measured.
The 267 wrung lobster are being measured. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

A Miami man’s haul of 267 wrung lobster tails, 246 of which were undersize, landed him in jail over the weekend with a bond set at $1.4 million.

Monroe County sheriff’s Deputy Wilfredo Guerra was on patrol about 4 a.m. Saturday near Fiesta Key Marina when he spotted Jorge Vargas, 59, pulling traps onto a white Carolina skiff, wringing off lobster tails and placing them into a mesh bag, according to the sheriff’s office.

Guerra watched as Vargas threw bag after bag filled with wrung lobster tails onto the shoreline and returned to the bay for more, according to authorities.

Finally, Vargas headed his boat to the marina and docked. When he got into his truck to pick up the bags of lobster tails, Guerra confronted him.

Vargas was cited for possession of undersize lobster, possession of over-the-limit lobster and possession of wrung lobster tails.

He was booked into Monroe County jail. Records revealed that Vargas had been cited twice before over the past three years. His previous hauls in the Florida Keys had been equally gigantic — more than 300 wrung lobster tails as well as possession of stone crab out of season.

While Vargas was in jail, a warrant was issued for him Monday for failure to appear in court for a 2011 case. The judge set his bond at $1.4 million.

Separating, or wringing, the tail from the body of a lobster is prohibited in state waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Recreational trapping is also prohibited, and the bag limit during regular spiny lobster season (Aug. 6 to March 31) is six per person per day.

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