Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
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January 31, 2014
Drug investigation continues into Stock Island Soca family
Detectives from various law enforcement agencies continue to search property on Stock Island belonging to the Soca family. Three members of the family were arrested this week on drug charges. Initial searches of their property turned up more than eight kilos of cocaine, hundreds of Oxycodone pills and thousands of Xanax bars. More than 600 short lobster tails were found bagged and frozen Wednesday night, and more were found today in other freezers on the property. So far, $75,000 in cash has been seized and a Ford F250 pickup truck belonging to Soca Jr.
Today, detectives operated heavy equipment digging up the yards surrounding the two trailers. Thursday night, they served a search warrant on a shed at the Stock Island lobster house. The shed was controlled by Soca Jr. Inside, they found approximately two pounds of marijuana described by detectives as “high-quality” and a small amount of cocaine.
During the course of the day, detectives say people who live in the vicinity have been driving by the property and thanking them for their actions.
Juan Soca Jr. has been charged so far with trafficking in cocaine and trafficking in Oxycodone. His bond is currently set at $6 million. Juan Soca Sr. has been charged so far with trafficking in cocaine. His bond is currently set at $1 million. Jose Soca has been charged so far with trafficking in cocaine and trafficking in oxycodone, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possessing the short lobster tails, which were found on his property. His bond is currently set at $6.055 million.
Agencies involved in the case include the Sheriff’s Office, Key West Police, Monroe HIDTA group, Key West HIDTA, Homeland Security Investigations and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Anyone who has any information about this criminal organization or drug activity by this family, contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If the information leads to additional charges or an additional arrest the tipster would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at tipsubmit.com.
January 30, 2014
Local family with arrested for kilos of cocaine
In a case law enforcement says should finally dismantle the ongoing criminal operation run by a local Stock Island family, agencies working together arrested three family members and seized large quantities of drugs, property, cash and 500 undersized lobster tail.
63 year old Juan Soca Sr., 42 year old Juan Soca Jr. and 38 year old Jose Soca were all arrested Wednesday night at their family compound – two trailers located side by side at 6451 6th Street on Stock Island. Search warrants were obtained for the property after Socha Jr. sold 1.5 ounces of cocaine to a law enforcement undercover operative. The drug sale took place Tuesday near Stock Island Lobster Company where Soca has a commercial fishing vessel.
“This is not the first time we have served drug related search warrants on the Soca property,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “But we are going to do everything we can to make sure it is the last. The drug activity by these members of the Soca family is a danger to everyone in our county. The detectives who worked on this case – from multiple agencies – did an outstanding job of stopping these criminals from their ongoing efforts to distribute large amounts of illegal narcotics. This operation will really make a dent in the drug activity in our community.”
“This significant drug bust is an example of why it is imperative that our agencies work collaboratively to address crimes in the Lower Keys. The drug trade that is happening in Stock Island affects citizens of key west and vice versa,” said KWPD Chief Donie Lee.
The sale and the search warrants were the culmination of a joint investigation between the Sheriff’s Office, Key West Police, the Monroe High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Group (Monroe HIDTA), Key West HIDTA Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Special Weapons and Tactics teams from the Sheriff’s Office and Key West Police entered the two trailers simultaneously Wednesday evening. Soca Sr. and Jose Soca were both on the property at the time the warrants were served. Soca Jr. was picked up a short time later at an apartment building on South Roosevelt Boulevard. He had approximately 300 Oxycodone pills in his possession when he was arrested.
The search of the two trailers and the property they were on went on late into the night Wednesday and resumed Thursday morning as detectives continued to find drugs and money hidden in various areas, including buried in the ground, hidden in concealed compartments, false electrical boxes, and in a boat fender nailed to a fence which looked like a decoration.
A total of 8 kilos of cocaine, approximately 2,100 Xanax bars, approximately 580 Oxycocone pills, a crack cocaine cookie weighing 7 grams, and over $75,000 in cash were seized during the search. On property occupied by Jose Soca, detectives found 14 bags of frozen lobster tails containing approximately 500 undersized tails. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was asked to respond to the scene to assist with the find. In the affidavit charging Jose Socha, the FWC Officer said 90 percent of the tails he examined were undersized. Jose Socha possesses a commercial fishing license with crawfish, sponge, stone crab and restricted species endorsements.
All three men face charges of trafficking in cocaine. Jose Soca faces additional charges of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of the undersized lobster tails. Soca Jr. faces additional charges related to the drugs he possessed when he was arrested. Detectives are still working on arrest paperwork and warrants connected with this case and they say more charges are pending.
Two of the three men have been arrested in the past for similar crimes. Both Soca Jr. and Soca Sr. were previously charged with trafficking in cocaine in 2002; Soca Jr. – who has a 28 arrests since 2001 on various charges - was also arrested for trafficking in cocaine in 2003. Other arrest charges against him over the years include extortion, aggravated battery, burglary with battery on the occupant, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
This investigation is continuing as detectives continue to search related properties and work to seize all property and cash related to the drug activity of these Soca family members, including an Ford F250 truck owned by Soca Jr.
January 27, 2014
Altercation leads to stitches in Upper Keys dispute
Two men who’d argued in the past got into an altercation Sunday afternoon. The victim wound up at Mariner’s Hospital where he received 9 stitches for a head wound.
The 50 year old victim and the 44 year old suspect both live on Harry Davis Circle in Key Largo. On Sunday at 5:30 p.m., the victim told Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe he approached the suspect, Jose Oramas to talk to him about rumors he heard were being spread by Oramas about the victim.
He said when he approached the suspect, Oramas grabbed a metal pipe from his van and hit the victim with it. Oramas then reportedly fled in his van. Witnesses to the incident all told similar stories.
As Deputy O’Keefe was investigating and speaking with witnesses, Oramas contacted the Sheriff’s Office and wanted to meet. He was found on Jewfish Avenue. He told Deputy O’Keefe he’d hit Oramas with a large battery. He said he’d then thrown the battery away, but he was unclear about where he threw it.
After he was interviewed, Oramas was arrested. He was charged with aggravated battery and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail. The victim received 9 stitches to close his head wound.
January 25, 2014
Man arrested for armed threats to illegal immigrants
An Upper Keys man is in jail after he threatened a worker he called an illegal immigrant with a knife Friday.
After making the threats, 53 year old Dean Ford told Deputy Dave Campbell he was tired of all these illegal immigrants living and working in the area . He told the deputy he was going to deal with it .
He admitted to going to a home on Ocean Way Drive in Rock Harbor at 1 p.m. Friday. There were people in the home working on it. He said he confronted them, calling them illegal immigrants and demanding to see their papers . At the time of the confrontation, he was holding a knife, and he cut window screens at the home to show them who the boss was . At one point, he said he hit one man on the hand with the knife.
The victim, a 50 year old Miami man who was born in the United States, told Deputy Campbell he was busy working when Ford burst in the door armed with a knife demanding to see his papers. He said Ford continued yelling about cleaning up the neighborhood and getting rid of illegal immigrants. The victim said when he reached for his cell phone to call police Ford slapped him on the hand with the knife. The victim said he decided it would be best to go outside so he walked out with Ford following.
He said he began talking loudly in the hopes people outside would hear him and in the hopes Ford would leave. He said there were some people outside and when he saw them, Ford walked away in the direction of Buttonwood Circle. The victim was then able to call law enforcement for help.
With the help of neighbors who recognized Ford s description, deputies found him at his apartment on Buttonwood Circle. Ford was placed under arrest. He was booked into jail on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery, criminal mischief and burglary.
January 21, 2014
Man steal car, burns it, carjacks another car
A Key Largo man went on a crime spree, stealing his daughter’s car, burning it then stealing a car from another man who was gassing up his vehicle at a nearby gas station. The suspect was finally apprehended in Maryland, but injured himself during the apprehension.
50 year old Robert Hoffman of Ryan Avenue in Key Largo reportedly stole his daughter’s 2007 Ford Fusion while she was working an overnight shift. She said she was sleeping after work Friday morning just before 10 a.m. when Hoffman entered her bedroom. She said he threw her car keys at her, saying “I just blew up your car”. When she went outside, her car was on fire. She told Detective Yunier Galvez Hoffman had been on a multiple day drug and alcohol binge.
Hoffman fled from the house. Just minutes later, Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a man at the Tom Thumb store at the 104 mile marker. He said he’d just fought with a man who had stolen the car he was driving, a 2001 Mercury sedan. The car belonged to the man’s roommate. He said the man – later identified as Hoffman – ran up to him, threw him to the ground and yelled “I’m stealing your car”. He said he fought with Hoffman, who jumped in and drove off in the car with the pump handle still in the gas tank.
A notice to be on the lookout for the car was issued and the car was entered into both state and national crime computers as stolen. On Saturday afternoon, the stolen car was located after the license plate was read going through a tunnel on I-95 in Maryland. Law enforcement attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle, which refused to stop. It crashed after an eight mile chase. Hoffman, who was driving, fled on foot and, before he was apprehended, he cut his own neck. He was airlifted to a downtown Baltimore City hospitial for medical care.
He faces possible charges of two counts of grand theft auto, carjacking and felony criminal mischief.
January 20, 2014
Marathon man arrested for firing flare gun at another man
Marathon - Two men who live on board boats in Boot Key Harbor got into a dispute just before 5 p.m. Saturday. In front of witnesses on neighboring boats, one of the men fired a flare gun at the other man as the dispute escalated.
The witnesses say the two men, whose boats are anchored about 50 feet apart, have had disputes in the past. They said on this occasion they began yelling at each other from their respective vessels. 58 year old Argelio Soto then picked up a flare gun, firing it at the victim.
Deputy Vince Weiner and officers from Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission went to Soto s boat. Soto, who reportedly appeared to be intoxicated, told them the dispute was because he believes the victim came onto his boat earlier without permission. He admitted to firing the flare gun at the victim, and said if he d had more flares he would have fired more times. He told Deputy Weiner he is not afraid to kill .
Soto was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a weapon. He was booked into jail.
January 19, 2014
Man arrested for attack on tow truck driver
Tavernier - A 43 year old Miami man went to jail Saturday evening after he backed his car into a tow truck driver who was attempting to tow it away.
The victim, an employee of Guy's Towing, responded to a call from a resident of Driftwood Trailer Park at 6 p.m. who said an unauthorized vehicle was parked in his parking space and he wanted it towed. The tow truck arrived and the victim began to hook the vehicle up to tow it.
The owner of the car, Javier Ramos, jumped into his car in an attempt to stop it from being towed. The victim was behind the vehicle when Ramos began to back it up. Ramos backed up into the victim, knocking him to the ground.
A second employee of the tow company sprayed Ramos with pepper spray in an attempt to get him to stop, so he wouldn t further injure the victim. At that point, Ramos attacked the tow company employees. Ramos family members were nearby and joined in the attack.
Deputies Derick Velez and Diosvel Fumero responded. They separated all of those involved in the altercation. Ramos was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. The victim was taken to Mariner's Hospital for treatment of injuries to his face and back.
January 18, 2014
Fire burns restaurant, damages marina
Photos from multiple sources within the Sheriff s Office available on our blog at floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com
Marathon A fire burned Salty s Bar and Grill in Marathon and destroyed two boats at the Seven Mile Marina early today.
Sheriff s Office dispatchers fielded numerous calls at 3 a.m. from people reporting the fire. When deputies arrived, they found the restaurant fully engulfed. As fire units began arriving on scene, deputies stopped traffic north and southbound. According to reports, firefighters and equipment from four stations in the Marathon area responded; as many as seven trucks were putting water on the fire as it was burning.
By 4 a.m., firefighters reported they d knocked down the fire. At the same time, deputies and firefighters had to keep a close eye in the area of 11th Street as a heavy rain of embers was reportedly falling in that area.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was on hand in the waters offshore of the marina as they kept an eye on boats which had broken free of their moorings. Two boats were destroyed in the fire. A car in the parking lot of the restaurant also burned.
During the course of the fire, Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority assisted with water pressure so fire trucks would have enough water to fight the fire; Florida Keys Electric Co-op responded to cut electricity to the property; Amerigas also responded to assist with large propane tanks on the property.
At 5:30 a.m., deputies began to let traffic flow one lane at a time. Fortunately, there was very little traffic on the roadway at that time of the morning so few cars were backed up. The road was completely opened at 5:45 a.m.
County and State fire marshals responded and will be investigating the cause of the fire.
Two arrested on drug charges
Detectives arrested two on drug charges after a traffic stop in Marathon.
Detectives were on patrol at 5 p.m. when they saw a silver Chevrolet Malibu southbound on U.S. One near 55th Street. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt so a nearby marked patrol car driven by K-9 handler Danielle Malone responded and pulled the car over. Deputy Malone and her dog Tracer performed a check on the outside of the vehicle after it was stopped. The dog alerted on the car, indicating the presence of drugs inside.
A search turned up 19 grams of cocaine, packaged for sale, and 36 grams of marijuana also individually wrapped in smaller quantities, packaged as if for sale. Some of the drugs were found in a hidden compartment in an Aquanet hairspray can.
The driver, 26 year old Rebecca Wells of Big Pine Key and her passenger, 29 year old Aaron Lindsey of Big Pine Key were both arrested. They were charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. The car was seized for possible forfeiture, along with $431.00 in cash.
Two arrested for using debit card without permission
A Big Pine Key couple was arrested Friday, charged with using a debit card belonging to a family member without permission.
28 year old Alesha Ratliff and 31 year old Scott Kennedy both admitted to taking a debit card belonging to Ratliff s mother and grandmother and using it to obtain cash on numerous occasions. They also admitted to charging other items on the card. The victims reported the theft after noticing over $1,600 missing from their joint bank account.
Deputy Scott Ward responded to the report and investigated the case. After interviewing Ratliff and Kennedy, he placed them under arrest. The two were charged with grand theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, theft of a credit card and identity theft.
Marathon man charged with vehicle burglaries
A Marathon man was arrested Friday, charged with burglarizing three vehicles in Marathon in November and December.
Deputy Chuck Kellenberger investigated the cases. One of the vehicles was parked on Sombrero Boulevard. The Ford truck had a camper shell on the back. Between the night of November 23rd and the morning of the 24th, tools were stolen from the back of the truck. Two other vehicles A Dodge Durango and a Ford van - were both burglarized between December 17th and the 20th. A socket set was stolen from the Durango and a GPS was stolen from the van.
Deputy Kellenberger checked pawn shops in Marathon to see if any items stolen in any of the burglaries had been pawned. He found the GPS stolen from the van pawned at Joe s Pawn Shop. It had been pawned by 30 year old Timirau Conrado of Marathon.
Deputy Kellenberger confronted Conrado with the information about the pawned GPS being stolen in a vehicle burglary. Conrado admitted to stealing it from the vehicle. He also admitted to the two other vehicle burglaries.
Warrants were obtained for his arrest and on Friday, he was charged with three counts of burglary and three counts of theft. He was booked into jail.
January 14, 2014
Drunk, armed man arrested on Big Pine Key
A intoxicated man who was openly carrying a handgun struggled with deputies and was arrested today on Big Pine Key.
Sheriff’s dispatchers received several calls reporting a man who appeared to be intoxicated who had a handgun visible in the waistband of his pants. Deputy Scott Ward responded to the location – the Ace Hardware store on Big Pine Key.
When he and Deputy Linda Kohout arrived, they found 45 year old Jeffrey Charron of Big Pine Key sitting on the ground in front of the business. He had a gun, visible, tucked in his pants. Deputy Ward ordered him to put his hands up and keep them in the air where he could see them. Charron instead began to lower one hand toward the gun. Deputy Kohout walked up to him and was able to grab his arm. Ward grabbed the other arm.
As they attempted to handcuff Charron, he struggled with them. A corrections officer who was riding with Deputy Kohout on patrol took safe control of the gun, a loaded Walther .380. Charron was taken into custody.
A number of witnesses said Charron was having trouble standing. At one point he reportedly went into the hardware store and sat on the floor. He was asked to leave and he went outside, where he was found by deputies.
Charron was charged with carrying a firearm openly, improper exhibition of a firearm and resisting an officer. He was booked into jail.
January 12, 2014
Big Pine man arrested for marijuana
A Big Pine Key man was arrested on Friday after he was stopped for not wearing a seat belt and a large amount of marijuana was found in his truck.
Detectives on patrol on Grassy Key Friday just before noon spotted a white truck on Guava Avenue. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt, so they pulled the truck over. As they were making contact with the driver, they could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the truck.
They called for an assist from a K-9 team. The team responded and during a K-9 search of the outside of the truck, the dog alerted indicating the presence of drugs inside. A search inside revealed a box containing a plastic bag filled with 235 grams of marijuana.
The search also turned up two different kinds of pills, identified as Alprazolam and Adderal. The driver, 27 year old James Wells of Big Pine Key, had a prescription for the Alprazolam but not for the Adderal.
Wells was arrested. He was charged with possessing a felony amount of marijuana and with possession of a controlled substance. He was booked into jail.
January 10, 2014
Father and son charged with conspiring to introduce drugs into the jail
A father and son were both arrested Thursday, charged with conspiring to smuggle marijuana into the Monroe County Detention Center.
Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations detectives received information that current inmate 20 year old Jack Cantres asked his father to help him smuggle marijuana into the jail. According to the information, 36 year old Harrold Cantres would hide the marijuana in a trash can at the Miami Subs restaurant on North Roosevelt Boulevard. His son would then arrange to have someone else pick it up and smuggle it into the jail to him. Jack Cantres is currently serving time in jail on drug charges.
Detectives did surveillance of the restaurant on the day the drugs were to be dropped off. After Harrold Cantres left the restroom, they searched the trashcan, finding the Marijuana he hid there. Harrold Cantres was taken into custody and he admitted to knowing the drugs were going to be delivered to his son in the jail. He said he was “doing a favor for his son.” Harrold Cantres was also found to be in possession of a large amount of money in small bills - $1,178. The money was seized for possible forfeiture.
Harrold Cantres was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a public housing facility and with conspiring to smuggle contraband into a detention facility. Jack Cantres was charged with conspiring to smuggle contraband into a detention facility. Now both men are in the Monroe County Detention Center.
Woman, dancing in the grass with white substance on her face, arrested for stolen vehicle
A Miami woman acting erratically at Coral Shores High School this morning was arrested after deputies found the car she was traveling in was stolen.
Assistant Principal Blake Fry first reported a woman acting strangely on school grounds at 7:30 a.m. He told School Resource Deputy Larry O’Neill a woman with a white substance all over her face and was hitting her own car – a white BMW - with a bungee cord and threatening students with a rock. Deputy O’Neill, who was working in the school crossing on U.S. One, radioed in for assistance and deputies responded. When they arrived, the car had left campus. they found it parked blocking a lane of the highway. 43 year old Elizabeth Quintana was out of the car, dancing in the grass near Coral Isles Church, just north of the school. She was dressed in strange clothing that was wet and had a white substance on her face which might be some kind of theatrical paint. She said something unintelligible about “Disney” and there were random things written all over the car in pink marker.
A check on the vehicle revealed it was reported stolen in Miami on January 9th. It appeared that the vehicle was parked in the highway because it had run out of gas. Quintana was arrested. She was charged with grand theft of the automobile, trespassing on school grounds and disorderly conduct.
A man who was in the vehicle with her was released after it was discovered he did not know her and that she had picked him up and given him a ride from Key West.
January 8, 2014
Brush fire, Big Pine Key
A brush fire on the National Key Deer refuge on Big Pine Key Tuesday night caused one home to be evacuated and shut down Key Deer Boulevard as firefighting crews worked to extinguish the blaze.
Deputies and Monroe County firefighters responded to the fire at 5:50 p.m., located north of Wildwood Lane on Big Pine Key. Fire hoses had to be stretched across Key Deer Boulevard from the Eden Pines Substation to Wildwood Lane so firefighters could fight the fire.
The area burning was primarily wooded, and was reported to be primarily federal property. One home close to the fire was evacuated and others living nearby were notified so they could prepare to evacuate if it became necessary. The fire was extinguished and the road opened by 8 p.m.
An officer from the Key Deer refuge told Sgt. Evan Calhoun he would be investigating the cause of the blaze.
January 3, 2014
Big Coppitt Key man charged with having marijuana grow operation
A Big Coppitt Key man was arrested Thursday afternoon after deputies discovered he was growing marijuana at his trailer on Venus Lane.
A neighbor called the Sheriff s Office after smelling the odor of marijuana coming from 213 Venus Lane. When Deputy Matt Dowling arrived, she pointed out the suspicious trailer. The resident of 213 Venus lane - 64 year old Michael Davis - saw the deputy looking at his home. He immediately began picking up marijuana plants which were growing outside and throwing them in the canal behind his home.
As Deputy Dowling ordered him to stop, Davis continued throwing the plants in the water. He went inside and began bringing more plants outside. Deputy Dowling ran to the home and ordered Davis to stop and he finally did.
Detectives from the Sheriff s Special Investigations Unit responded and obtained a warrant to search the trailer. Inside they found a marijuana growing operation set up, including special lighting, pots, misters and fans. Marijuana plants were recovered from the canal and from inside the home.
Davis was charged with production of marijuana, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.
Islamorada man charged with clandestinely videotaping teen
A 44 year old Islamorada man was arrested today, charged with secretly video recording a teenage girl in the bathroom of her Islamorada home.
The 16 year old victim was getting ready to take a shower when she noticed a small clock sitting on the counter of the bathroom. She examined it more closely, discovering it had a small, hidden camera inside. When she removed the digital storage card from the device and copied it to her computer, she realized she was being video recorded.
She told her older sister about finding the camera. They reported it to their mother.
On January 1st, Detective Manny Cuervo was assigned to investigate the case. According to his reports, 44 year old Douglas Adams was shown clearly on the camera’s video recording placing the device in the bathroom. Detectives confronted him with the information today, arresting and charging him with video voyeurism. He was booked into jail.