Three men charged with illegal fishing activities

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A tip on Tuesday night to the Fisheries Department led to a late night bust. The Department received information of illegal activities from concerned citizens at a campsite at the south end of Caye Chapel property. According to Fisheries Officer/Prosecutor, Hampton Gamboa, there have been a number of encounters in that area and finally they have been able to crack down on the operation and confiscate a total of 431 undersized lobsters. The men who were reportedly found in possession of the crayfishes are well known lobster trap fishermen from the area of South of Caye Chapel 50-year-old Luigi Marin, 30 year old Hubert Palacio, 43 year old Mark A. Sewell and a 24 year old. Three of the four men, with the exception of the 24 year old were charged in court on Wednesday. Hubert Palacio, Mark Sewell and Luigi Marin were jointly charged with one count each of possession of undersized crayfish (Lobsters tails). While Mr Marin and Mr Sewell pleaded not guilty to the charge, Mr Palacio took the rap and subsequently, the charges were withdrawn against his companions. Hubert Palacio was fined $500 for the offense with an additional $20 for each undersized lobster tails.  A total $9,125.00, including the cost of court.  Mr Palacio who is a first time offender has to pay the $500 fine by November 30, 2013 or serve 6 months imprisonment, while $8,625 fine must be paid by December 31, of this year. Meanwhile, Hubert Palacio and Luigi Marin were additional charge separately with one count each of engaging in Commercial fishing without a license. Mr Marin, on whose family property the bust was made, initially pleaded guilty with an explanation and told Magistrate Hamilton that at the time of the officers searched, he was asleep but since he has no license, he was going to plead guilty. However, the Magistrate questioned why, if he was not fishing would he plead guilty and that’s when Luigi Marin changed his plea to not guilty. Both Hubert Palacio and LuigiMarin were offered bail in the sum of $500 plus one surety of the same amount and they are due back in court October 31. The joint-operation was saw the participation of the Gang Suppression Unit. According to the Fisheries Department, the men at the time of their catch were able to destroy nursery grounds of the lobsters.

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