Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office, Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin

May 30, 2002

Detectives looking for help locating suspicious truck

Key Largo – Sheriff’s detectives would like to ask for help from community members to catch boat motor thieves who are preying on Marinas in the upper Keys.

Detective Sgt. Corey Bryan says the same pickup truck has been spotted at a number of marinas just before boat motors have been stolen. Witnesses say they have see a large black “duelly” pickup truck parked near several marinas after they are closed and just prior to a motor being stolen. A “duelly” pickup truck is one with double wheels the back of the truck.

The Latin males who are traveling in the truck sometimes get out of the truck and appear to be looking at new boats parked at the marinas. In fact, detectives believe they are casing the marinas so they can return later and steal boat motors.

When a couple of witnesses have asked what they are doing, they say they are just looking at the boats, then they get into the truck and leave. Detectives say the men return after dark, cut holes in security fences, and remove the motors, possibly taking them to Miami.

Everyone should be on the lookout for this truck. If it is spotted, try to get a license tag number, a description of those traveling in it, and any other information which might help detectives catch the thieves. According to Detective Bryan, they have stolen at least six brand new motors from the upper Keys area in the past two months.

If you do spot a truck similar to the one described above parked at a marina after hours, call the Sheriff’s Office immediately to report it. After you call the Sheriff’s Office, hang up and call the Crime Stoppers hot line number to receive a tip identification number, so you will be eligible to receive a reward if your information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.


May 28, 2002

Man shoots himself while watching movie

Stock Island – A Stock Island man shot himself in the leg while watching a Steven Segal movie Monday in the early morning hours.

42 year old Michael Anda showed up at the emergency room at 2 a.m. with gun shot wounds in his thigh and calf. He said he received the wounds as a result of a drive by shooting. Sheriff’s Detective Henry Hamilton responded to investigate. Upon questioning, Anda finally admitted he shot himself. He told Detective Hamilton he was “polishing” his Colt .45 semi-automatic handgun while watching a Steven Segal movie, “Under Siege”. He said the gun went off. The bullet penetrated his thigh, exited, then penetrated his calf. It exited his calf and hit the floor of the bus he lives in with his wife on 4th Avenue, Stock Island.

Anda said he lied about the shooting because he was embarrassed. He said he was afraid he’d wind up on the front page of the Key West Citizen. He was treated for his wounds and released from the hospital.

Kitchen worker arrested for soliciting sex from an inmate

Stock Island – A worker in the Monroe County Detention Center kitchen was arrested Friday for offering to trade tobacco and marijuana for sexual acts from an inmate at the facility.

55 year old Ronald Souto was arrested Friday by Detective Henry Hamilton. The inmate agreed to wear a recording device during the course of the investigation. Souto was caught on tape making an offer to trade cigarettes and marijuana for sexual activity. Souto is not an employee of Monroe County or the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. He is an employee of a company contracted to provide kitchen services at the Detention facility.

Souto was charged with introduction of contraband into a detention facility and attempted sexual activity between an employee of a detention facility and an inmate. Both charges are third degree felonies carrying a possible penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.00.

Stock Island man arrested for hitting, stabbing woman

Stock Island – A Stock Island woman reported being hit and stabbed in the early morning hours today (Tuesday) by the man she lives with.

35 year old Michael Birss was charged with aggravated battery and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center at 1:20 a.m. The victim told Deputy Kevin England Birss hit her in the head repeatedly, then stabbed her in the leg with a kitchen knife. He then reportedly passed out in a bedroom of the home they share in Coral Isle Trailer Park on Stock Island.

The victim left and called the Sheriff’s Office from a neighbor’s house. Birss was arrested and booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Key Largo woman reports home invasion robbery

Key Largo – A Key Largo woman reported being robbed in her home Saturday in the early morning hours by a man with a mask over his face.

The victim told detectives she was sleeping in bed at the time of the incident, around 1:45 a.m. Saturday. She said she awoke to find the man standing over her. He was wearing a stocking mask over his face and demanded she give him money. At one point, he unzipped his pants as if he were preparing to rape her. She begged him not to and he didn’t. He stole a large number of coins from a glass jar on the dresser, and took a stack of small bills from a dresser drawer. He then fled the residence through the front door.

Detectives responded and examined the scene. They say it appears he broke in through the front door, although the victim says she did not hear the entry. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately five foot five inches tall, 150 pounds with shoulder length dreadlocks. He was wearing a light colored shirt and dark long pants.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a caller’s tip leads to an arrest, he or she would be eligible for a substantial cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Few injury accidents over the holiday weekend

Monroe County – There were relatively few accidents with injuries reported over the holiday weekend in Monroe County.

41 accidents were reported to Monroe County Sheriff’s dispatchers between Friday and Monday. Eight of those accidents involved injuries, and it appears that the majority of those were minor in nature. The Sheriff’s Office handled 15 accident reports, while Florida Highway Patrol handled the remaining 26 accidents.

Thirty one of the accidents happened in the upper Keys, between Upper Matacumbe Key and the county line at the 112 mile marker of highway U.S. One. Eight of them happened on Friday, nine on Saturday, nine on Sunday and 16 on Memorial Day itself.

Captain Jenny Bell-Thomson, who heads up Sector 7 – the area from Tavernier north to the county line – attributes the relatively safe weekend to a heavy police presence in her area.

“We had ten deputies patrolling the upper Keys area at any given time, and I know Florida Highway Patrol had at least six or seven. Anyone who traveled into our county could plainly see the law enforcement presence, a visible reminder to drive safely,” she said.

Another possible reason for the lack of serious accidents: the huge number of cars on the roadway. Traffic in the upper Keys was so heavy all weekend that there really wasn’t much room to speed or improperly pass, two of the leading causes of serious accidents.

“We made it through one of our busiest holiday weekends without losing a life on our highway,” said Sheriff Rick Roth. “Now all we need to do is continue to drive carefully and safely. Let’s make this summer a safe one on the roadways of Monroe County,” he said.

May 23, 2002 – Second edition

Detectives looking for aggravated battery suspect

Islamorada – Sheriff’s detectives are asking for the public’s help in locating a man who battered a 19 year old at the Sandbar off of Islamorada earlier this month.

The 19 year old victim, whose family lives in Islamorada, suffered multiple broken bones in his face from the beating, and may suffer from permanent eye damage. Detective Larry O’Neill said the incident took place May 14th between 5 and 6 p.m. near a boat where a D.J. was playing music. The fight began after the suspect asked a friend of the victim to show him her breasts. She said no, and the suspect reportedly refused to take no for an answer. A short time later the physical confrontation took place.

Witnesses say the suspect first held the victim’s head under water, then hit him in the face. The suspect is described as a white male, 35 to 40 years old, 5’9” to 5:11” tall, 240 to 300 pounds. He has short, strawberry blonde hair, a brown colored mustache and was very sunburned. He was wearing a blue and orange shorts-type bathing suit.

Anyone who knows this man, or might be able to provide more information about him, should contact Detective O’Neill at the Sheriff’s Office, 305-853-3211; callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. A caller whose information leads to an arrest may be eligible for a substantial cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

May 23, 2002

Snorkeler’s body found off of lower Keys

Lower Keys – The body of a Hialeah man missing since Saturday was recovered Wednesday near Pelican Shoal.

25 year old Carlos Diaz was free-diving with friends Saturday afternoon on the Atlantic side of Sunshine Key. The man diving with him came to the surface momentarily, and when he went back down he saw Diaz floating with his arms out, not moving. He was unable to recover Diaz body, and a subsequent search of the area failed to find it.

A boater off-shore of the Saddlebunch Keys at Pelican Shoal. The U.S. Coast Guard picked it up and brought it to the Coast Guard base in Key West.

An autopsy will be done today to determine the cause of death. Detective James Norman is assigned to investigate the case.

60 Kilos of Cocaine found off the upper Keys

Key Largo – Participants of a Dolphin Tournament off the Upper Keys caught more than fish Friday morning. Two boats participating in the tournament found large bags of cocaine – 30 kilos in each package.

The drugs were in tightly compressed kilo sized bricks. The bricks were contained in black nylon duffle bags, 30 bricks per bag. One boat was 28 miles off shore of Key Largo and the other was fishing 25 miles off of Ocean Reef.

The two bags with a total of 60 kilos of cocaine were brought to shore and turned over the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office in turn handed them over to the U.S. Customs Service. The estimated street value of a kilo of cocaine is between $17,000 and $20,000, making the entire find worth approximately $1.2 million.

Hialeah snorkeler missing, presumed dead

Lower Keys – A Hialeah man, snorkeling off of Sunshine Key Saturday, is missing and presumed dead.

25 year old Carlos Diaz of Hialeah was free-diving and spear fishing Saturday afternoon with friends. 44 year old Jorge Perez, also of Hialeah, was swimming with him and told Deputy Mark Long they had just shot a fish. The line on the spear broke, so Perez said he returned to the boat for another spear gun to “finish off” the fish. When he went back under the surface, he saw Diaz floating about 30 feet deep, not moving.

Diaz returned to the boat to put on dive gear, so he could assist Diaz. He had some trouble with his buoyancy compensation device (BCD), and was not able to dive below the surface. He and a woman on board the boat then decided to call the Coast Guard for assistance.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Officers from the Fish and Wildlife Commission and members of the Sheriff’s Office Dive Team searched for Diaz, but couldn’t find him. The Coast Guard finally called off their search on Sunday.

Diaz was wearing a black, blue and yellow dive skin suit and a black wetsuit vest with a hood. He had a black mask, a black snorkel and three foot long black fins on. He was also wearing between six and nine pounds of weight on a weight belt around his waist.

Trap fire temporarily halts traffic

Tavernier – Approximately 500 crab traps caught fire Saturday night beside the Tavernier Dive Center at the 90.7 mile marker.

Heavy smoke and flames forced deputies to halt traffic for about ten minutes just north of the Tavernier Creek Bridge until the Tavernier fire department could get the blaze under control. The traps were estimated to be worth $7,000.00. After the flames were put out, the area was taped off as a possible crime scene. The Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the case as a possible arson.

The traps were owned by Steven Breeder of Plantation Key and Scott Vaeth, of Islamorada.

Grassy Key man charged with drug possession

Marathon – A Grassy Key man was arrested Saturday morning after he was found to be in possession of marijuana and cocaine.

Deputy Joel Slough was on patrol at 5:30 a.m. Saturday when he spotted a truck parked in the parking lot of a Marathon bar. The driver’s door was open and two men were sitting inside. When the deputy approached the truck, he noticed the driver had a glass pipe in his lap, the kind usually used to smoke illegal substances. He asked the two men if they had anything illegal in the truck. They said no. He then asked them for permission to search them, and their truck. The men agreed to the search.

In the driver’s pockets, Deputy Slough found 42 grams of marijuana and a half a gram of cocaine. 18 year old Mark Allen Wells was placed under arrest. No other contraband was found in the truck, or in the possession of the passenger.

Wells was charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

May 16, 2002

Drug Operation leads to heroin arrests

Stock Island – A heroin dealer and his supplier were both booked into the Monroe County Detention Center today (Thursday) after being arrested on outstanding warrants for trafficking in heroin. The arrests were the result of a month long investigation into possible drug sales taking place at a Stock Island trailer.

Detectives made two separate purchases of heroin from 36 year old Michael Anthony “Cat Eyes” McDonald’s trailer at 5240 Suncrest Street. Arrest warrants were then issued for McDonald, and for the man detectives identified as his supplier – 53 year old Kevin Mitchell. A search warrant was also issued for McDonald’s trailer.

A surveillance was set up in the vicinity of McDonald’s trailer in anticipation of a possible delivery of heroin. A short time later, a 1999 Cadillac belonging to Mitchell was stopped a short distance from the trailer on a traffic stop. Mitchell was placed under arrest for the outstanding trafficking warrant. A search of the car turned up 2.5 grams of herion in eight separate packages, hidden in a cell phone case. Mitchell was additionally charged with possession of heroin. His car was seized, along with $1,400 in cash.

The search warrant was then served at the trailer. McDonald was also placed under arrest. The search did not turn up any more illegal drugs.

Both men were booked booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. McDonald is being held on a $250,000 bond and Mitchell’s bond was set at $200,000.

      Michael McDonald             Kevin Mitchell


May 6, 2002

Homestead woman charged in Ocean Reef jewelry theft

Key Largo – Sheriff’s detectives arrested a Homestead woman accused of stealing close to $68,000 worth of jewelry from an Ocean Reef hotel room.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office April 14th at 7:40 p.m. She said she and her husband had returned home after staying at the Ocean Reef Inn. She said when she unpacked her luggage, she found her box of jewelry missing. The total value of the jewelry was estimated to be almost $68,000.00.

Detective David Carey was assigned to investigate the case. The detective faxed a flyer with a list of the stolen items to pawn shops in the Miami-Dade County area. On April 29th, he received a call from a pawn shop. The caller said a woman had just attempted to pawn one of the stolen items. The caller further said the same woman had pawned another of the stolen items at the shop on April 15th, the day after the theft was reported and prior to the flyer being distributed.

The woman who pawned the stolen items was identified as 45 year old Yvette Mardi of Homestead. Mardi was placed under arrest Friday at 8:45 a.m. All of the stolen jewelry was recovered and returned to the owner. Mardi was charged with grand theft and she was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Her bond was set at $10,000.00.

Ocean Reef Public Safety and the Homestead Police Department assisted in the investigation.

Key West man charged with breaking in to animal hospital

Stock Island – A Key West man was arrested Sunday and charged with breaking in to an Animal hospital on Stock Island and stealing his own dog, which had been kenneled there.

An employee of the Animal Hospital of Olde Key West called the Sheriff’s Office Saturday at 1 p.m. to report the break in. When Deputy Gerald Fisher arrived, the employee showed him a hole cut in a perimeter fence, and gave him information about a German Shepherd puppy which had been stolen from the kennel area of the business sometime between Friday night and Saturday.

Investigation revealed the owner of the dog, 29 year old Virgil Singh, owed $266.00 for kenneling the dog at the animal hospital. Upon questioning, Singh denied any knowledge of the theft. The deputy was later contacted by a man who said Singh had given him the puppy at a bar at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday. The man said when he heard the dog was stolen from the kennel, he decided to call the Sheriff’s Office to report it.

Deputy Fisher placed Singh under arrest, charging him with burglary. Singh was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Domestic dispute turns violent; man finally arrested in Miami-Dade County

Key Largo – A Key Largo woman was held against her will by her husband during the early morning hours Saturday. He drove her from Key Largo to Miami-Dade County where she finally managed to escape from him.

The victim told Deputy Greg LaRochelle her husband, 32 year old Steven Andrews, found her at a Key Largo bar at 3:15 a.m. and forced her into his car. She said he used the child safety locks in the car to keep her inside, and he drove northbound. She said she used her cell phone when he wasn’t looking and called her mother. She left the line open so her mother could hear what was happening. Her mother, realizing her daughter was in trouble, called the Sheriff’s Office for help.

When the car turned onto Card Sound Road, Andrews told her he was going to burn down her house with her children in it. He then hit her several times. When he realized the phone line was open, he grabbed it and told her mother he would kill her if she called police. He drove to Homestead and stopped at a store, bought beer, then turned around and started south on Card Sound Road. When he was within sight of the Card Sound Road Toll booth, he spotted a Sheriff’s patrol car, so he turned around and began north again. He turned onto a dirt road, telling her he was going to kill her there. He then stopped the car and got out to urinate.

While he was out of the car, she locked all the car doors and attempted to drive away. He jumped on the hood and began beating on the windshield. He broke the windshield with his fists before being thrown off the car onto the ground. The victim used her cellular phone to call the Miami-Dade Police Department for help.

Patrol units from Miami-Dade County and Monroe County both responded. Andrews, who was injured when he fell from the car, was taken into custody by Miami-Dade police (call Miami-Dade police for exact charges). His injuries included two broken ankles and a laceration to the back of his head. The victim and her mother were both interviewed by Monroe County Sheriff’s detectives for the ongoing investigation.