Two men have turned themselves into authorities after photos and video surfaced showing their alleged involvement in a tarpon killing in Key Largo in March. Law enforcement officials say they are still seeking another person in the case.
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission announced late last week the arrests of Arsenio Ravelo, 21, of Homestead, and Sergio Leon, 28, of Hialeah. In March, FWC investigators received photographs and video of a large tarpon being held by three individuals on a dock at Calusa Campground in Key Largo. FWC released an image of the three young males holding the tarpon in an effort to obtain the public’s assistance.
Two of the three individuals were identified thanks to tips and information from multiple witnesses. Additional photographs were provided showing the men hoisting the tarpon into a truck.
FWC officials said the case highlights the role the public plays in not only assisting law enforcement through the Wildlife Alert Program, but also preserving Florida’s natural resources and bringing those who violate the law to justice.
“I appreciate the dedication of our officers and investigators for their diligence in this case as well as the public’s assistance with identifying these individuals,” said Maj. Alfredo Escanio, commander of the FWC’s South Bravo Region. “The illegal harvest of our natural resources will not be tolerated.”
Ravelo and Leon are facing misdemeanor charges for harvest/kill tarpon without a tag, removing a tarpon greater than 40 inches from the water and failure to release tarpon alive and unharmed. A bond amount of $75,000 was set for the two men.
Tarpon are a premier game fish in Florida and are prohibited from harvest unless the angler is in pursuit of a world or state record and in possession of a tarpon tag. They are rarely ever used as a food fish due to poor meat quality and the large number of bones. In addition, tarpon more than 40 inches long must remain in the water, including their gills, at all times.
“Tarpon are one of the many species that make Florida the Fishing Capital of the World,” said Division of Marine Fisheries Management Director Jessica McCawley. “Florida anglers love fishing for these beautiful and, often, large fighting fish, and we want to make sure they are protected for years to come.”
Those with information regarding the third individual are asked to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.For more on tarpon regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Tarpon.”