Crime — 23 August 2013 — by Rochelle Gillett
Fishermen — Ernesto Vasquez, 44, and Lloyd Reyes, 42 charged with taking conch during closed season

Ernesto Vasquez, 44, a resident of Mile 2 ½ , George Price Highway, and Lloyd Reyes, 42, a resident of #16 Conch Shell Bay, both of whom are fishermen, were charged today with taking conch during the closed season, which is from July 1 to September 30 each year, inclusive of those dates as well.

Fisheries officer Callman Hall appeared on behalf of the Fisheries Department and informed the court of what led to the charge being levied against the men.

On August 21, a team of fisheries officers, accompanied by two police officers, were on patrol in a Fisheries vessel named Fernia when, at 2:30 that afternoon, they spotted a skiff with two occupants in front of Southern Long Caye.

As the vessel approached the skiff, the men were observed throwing two objects overboard. Upon reaching the area where the objects had been thrown, the officers saw what appeared to be two white sacks on the seabed.

The two bags, which turned out to be crocus sacks, were retrieved and when opened, the Fisheries officers found the contents to be unprocessed conch.

The men and the two sacks were taken back to the Fisheries Department office, where the conch was counted and amounted to 199.

Reyes pleaded guilty to the charge while Vasquez pleaded not guilty. Reyes, when asked if he had anything to say in mitigation, replied no, and was then fined $500, which is to be paid by September 30, 2013, or he will spend 6 months in prison.

Reyes was additionally fined $20 for each conch that was counted, which came to a sum of $3,980, which is to be paid by December 30, 2013. If he defaults on this payment, a distress warrant will be issued for him, and in default of the distress warrant, a commitment warrant will then be issued for him.

The charges were withdrawn from Vasquez and both men were able to leave the court.

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