Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Alleged turtle molester arrested as weekend keeps officers busy

Law enforcement had a busy Sunday, arresting two men for spearfishing illegally including one who was allegedly harassing a sea turtle, and chasing a fleeing vehicle through the Key Haven subdivision. 

In the turtle case, a passerby on the south end of the Long Key Bridge noticed a man and woman taking pictures of a sea turtle on shore, so the passerby began videotaping the incident with a cellphone, said Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Capt. David Dipre and spokesman Bobby Dube. 

“He was with his girlfriend and had jumped in the water and brought up a sea turtle,” Dipre said. “He took it to shore. He had it on the rocks and was taking pictures with it. I don’t know if his intent was to keep it or just take pictures of it.”

The person videotaping called 911 and responding FWC officers charged Carlos Argen Hernandez, 31, of Miami, with felony molesting a sea turtle, possessing an undersized nurse shark, spearing a nurse shark and for failure to keep fish in whole condition. 

Hernandez allegedly had many snappers already filleted where he was fishing, which is illegal, as is spearing nurse sharks. Anglers are allowed to keep one nurse shark per day, but they cannot be speared and must be at least 54 inches in length, Dipre said. 

The sea turtle — the species could not be verified Monday — was released in good condition at the scene, Dube said. 

Hernandez remained Monday at Monroe County Detention Center in Marathon on $4,700 bail. 

Earlier that afternoon, a 32-year-old Homestead man was charged with possession of undersized lobster, possession of over-the-limit lobster, possession of speared lobster, possession of lobster out of season, having no measuring device and spearfishing within 100 yards of a fishing bridge in an unrelated case, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. 

Sheriff’s Office Marine Deputy Wilfredo Guerra was patrolling near the Channel Five Bridge when he reportedly saw a man diving without a dive flag near the south end of the bridge. 

As he drew near, he noticed a man later identified as Pascual Ernesto Castandea was spearing lobster, reports state. The man eventually surfaced with a lobster on his spear and Guerra took him into custody. 

Castandea was taken to Monroe County Detention Center in Marathon where he remained Monday on $3,450 bail. 

Later that night around 10, FWC officers, with the help of Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies, arrested Austin Pickett Cerkleski, 21, of Key Haven, after he allegedly refused to stop for an FWC officer working a traffic enforcement detail, Dipre said. 

Officers gave chase along Key Haven Drive to Cerkleski’s residence on Amaryllis Drive about a half-mile away from where they ordered him to stay in his vehicle, Dipre said. Cerkleski got out and back into the vehicle twice before getting out a third time, Dipre said. 

When he got out a third time, he began walking toward officers and reaching into his pockets, at which point he was shocked with a Taser. He was taken to Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island where he remained Monday on $6,000 bail. 

He faces charges of felony fleeing, misdemeanor arrest, misdemeanor failure to stop for a traffic control device and misdemeanor marijuana possession.


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