PALM BEACH COUNTY RESIDENT SENTENCED FOR IMPORTING ILLEGAL CATCH FROM THE BAHAMAS
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Tracy Dunn, Acting Special Agent in Charge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), Southeast Division, Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, and Major Jeff Hubert, Regional Commander, South A Region, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), announced today that Van Bodden-Martinez, a Bahamian national residing in Palm Beach County, was sentenced for having imported and attempted to import into the United States fish possessed and transported in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, in violation of the Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3371(a)(2)(A) and 3373(d)(1)(A).
U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra, who earlier accepted Bodden-Martinez’ guilty plea in the matter, sentenced him to a term of 3 years’ probation with a special condition prohibiting him from importing into the United States any fish or marine product harvested in Bahamian waters. The Court also ordered forfeiture to the United States of the illegal catch of approximately 45 spiny lobster tails, 343.5 pounds of queen conch, 42 yellowtail snappers, and two insulated ice-chest coolers as a result of Bodden-Martinez’ violation of U.S. and Bahamian law.
According to statements in Court and the charging indictment, on or about February 19, 2011, in Palm Beach County, Bodden-Martinez attempted to import spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), queen conch (Strombus gigus), and yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), all of which had been harvested without first acquiring a permit to engage in fishing activities and in violation of the possession limits for each of the species set forth in the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, specifically, the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction & Conservation) Regulations, Part X, Sections 47(1)(a), (b) and 48(1)(f).
Mr. Ferrer commended the coordinated investigative efforts of the Special Agents and Officers of the NOAA Office for Enforcement, ICE, CBP, FWC, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.