Feb 21
Skeletal remains found off College Road

Sheriff’s detectives say skeletal remains of a man were found in a wooded area off College Road Monday.

The bones have been turned over to the Medical Examiner so he can attempt to discover more about who the dead man is and how he may have died. The body was about 10 feet into a wooded area across from Gerald Adams School. Detectives say the body may have been there for months. There was no obvious signs of foul play upon initial examination of the body and the surrounding area.

A bag with belongings in it and possible identifying documents -  including a Florida driver’s license – was found nearby. The driver’s license is not from Monroe County. A closer examination of the body will be necessary, however, to determine if the body is, indeed, the same person as the person depicted on the license.

Deputy Vicki Lockwood-Fleck responded to the area at about 10 a.m. after a man called Sheriff’ s dispatchers to report seeing the bones there. Major Crimes Detective Lissette Zuelch also responded and will be investigating the case along with the Medical Examiner.

The human remains have been identified as 53 year old William Brian Norton. He was identified using dental records, with the assistance of family members who live in Naples, Florida.

Norton’s sister said she last spoke with him in May of 2013. She said at that time he was homeless and “living on the beach”. She said he was known to have many medical issues.

Detectives say there is no evidence of foul play in Norton’s death.

Feb 21
Sheriff’s Office seeks to identify graffiti vandals

The Sheriff’s Office is looking for information which might help identify suspects who vandalized several vehicles and businesses over the weekend.

The first report came in the early morning hours Saturday. A woman who lives on Caribbean Drive in Key Largo came home at 2:45 a.m. to find her white Saturn had been spray painted on the left side with red paint. Deputy Greg LaRochelle responded and found Similar vandalism in two different locations on the nearby roadway.

Shortly thereafter, Deputy LaRochelle found more graffiti painted on three commercial vehicles at Sub Zero on Laguna Road, on a white trailer parked in the rear of the Holiday Inn Hotel, and on a blue trash bin and a piece of construction equipment in the same area. Waldorf Plaza at the 100 mile marker also had extensive graffiti painted on the rear of the building.

In all cases, the graffiti was in red colored paint. In a number of locations, the word “JBLAZZ” was included in the graffiti.

On Saturday, Sheriff’s deputies took a group of jail inmates on a work detail and painted over all the damaged areas at the plaza.

The damage to all the locations was extensive enough to constitute a felony charge of criminal mischief. Anyone who has information about this damage should call the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 305-853-3211. Callers may also report their information to Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip to Crime Stoppers results in an arrest, the caller 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 www.tipsubmit.com.

Feb 21
Drug related search warrant served on Stock Island

A search warrant served at a Stock Island residence Wednesday morning resulted in the arrest of a 29 year old man for drug possession.

The warrant was served at 6415 2nd Street, Apartment E by Sheriff’s Special Investigations detectives, detectives from the Lower Keys Criminal Investigative Unit, Key West Police detectives and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A search of the premises turned up 64 Oxycodone pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Over $10,000 was seized as the possible proceeds of drug sales. Xavier Blackman was taken into custody, charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Feb 21
Teen charged with sexual battery

A 16 year old Marathon teen was arrested last Tuesday, charged with sexual battery on another teen.

16 year old John Qualls is accused of forcing another 16 year old boy to perform oral sex on him. The incident allegedly took place at Quall’s home on 74th Street the night of February 8. He is also accused of holding the victim against his will by locking the doors of the house. The victim told Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo Qualls threatened to kill him or hurt him if he told anyone, put his hands around the victim’s neck on several occasions during the attack and struck him in the face several times.

Qualls was arrested and charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and battery. He is currently in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Feb 14
Search warrant on Stock Island

A search warrant was served  Friday morning in  a Stock Island residence.

The Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics team performed the initial entry to the residence. Detectives from the Special Investigations Unit, along with  Lower Keys Criminal Investigations detectives and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration then served the warrant at  B-7 8th Avenue, on Stock Island.  Inside the residence detectives found  22 year old Julian L. Barger, 39 year old Jesus R. Paoli and 23 year old Samantha Romeo.

The search of the residence turned up  approximately  2 grams of powder cocaine,  sixteen  Xanax pills,  two  Soma pills,  21  grams of Marijuana and several items of drug paraphernalia.    Barger and Romeo  were  charged with  possession of  a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of cocaine and marijuana,  and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Paoli  was charged with tampering with evidence after detectives received information he had destroyed some of the evidence prior to detectives entering the premises.

Barger, Paoli  and Romeo were  were all booked into jail.

Feb 14
Big Coppitt man arrested in stabbing

A 27 year old Big Coppitt Key man is under arrest, accused of stabbing a Sugarloaf Key man. The victim is in critical condition at a Miami hospital.

The victim, 30 year old Yunior Carrazana, was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for treatment of life-threatening wounds to his upper torso.

According to 22 year old Dayanet Portal, she and suspect Ramon Sanchez separated from their relationship about a month and a half or two months ago. She said they have a child together and Sanchez had the child for the weekend. She said Sanchez called her because the child was sick. While they were on the phone, he began asking who she was with. She said she refused to answer because she was afraid of how he would react.

She said about 1:30 in the morning Saturday, she and the victim and her two other children were at her home on Avenue A on Big Coppitt Key. She said she and Carrazana were in her room talking when she heard something. She said suddenly Sanchez entered the bedroom holding a large knife. She said first he attacked her, stabbing at her with the knife and striking her several times with his hands. When Carranza got up to defend her, the suspect attacked Carrazana, stabbing him in the arm and multiple times in the upper torso.

He reportedly held the two in the room, and refused to allow them to leave or call for help for about 15 minutes. He finally told them they could call police, and he left the house.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they put a notice out over radios to look for the suspect’s truck, a silver Dodge RAM pickup. The truck was stopped by Deputies Ian Cooper and Wendy Negron a short time later at the 6 mile marker of the Highway. The suspect was inside the truck, and the knife detectives believe he used to stab the suspect was found in the back seat, still covered in blood.

Sanchez refused to give a statement and he was arrested. He was booked into jail on multiple felony charges including attempted murder, aggravated battery, false imprisonment, obstruction, domestic battery, and burglary with battery on the occupant. The victim is in critical condition at the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

Feb 14
Detectives need help finding jewelry owner

Lower Keys Detective Dave Chavka would like help identifying the owner of jewelry recovered in the vicinity of Little Torch Key.

Deputies recovered the jewelry while responding to a call on Little Torch Key on January 28th. Detectives believe the jewelry may have been stolen and not reported, perhaps in the Ramrod or Little Torch Key area. Anyone who finds they are missing some jewelry can contact Detective Chavka for more information, 305-292-7060.

A description of the jewelry is not being released so that when someone calls to claim it, the detective will be able to use that information to determine who the true owner is.

Feb 14
Detective needs help identifying fraud suspects

Marathon Detective Nick Whiteman needs the public’s assistance identifying suspects in a credit card fraud case.

A Marathon man reported someone used his credit card number to make numerous fraudulent charges. He said he checked his account on January 27 and discovered the fraud. Detective Whiteman was assigned to investigate. He discovered suspects used the credit card number to make 23 separate charges at various locations in the Miami area for a total of $6,600.

Detective Whiteman contacted a number of the different places where the card number was used and was able to obtain photos of the suspects that used it. He also learned the suspects could be driving an older model dark colored Ford two door truck.

Anyone who recognizes one of the suspects in these photos should contact Detective Whiteman at 305-289-2430 or nwhiteman@keysso.net. Callers can also call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. A Crime Stoppers tipster whose information leads to an arrest in the case 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 www.tipsubmit.com.

Feb 07
Local family 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.

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.

Recently, 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 days, 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.

Feb 07
Detective asks for help identifying suspects

Detective Trevor Wirth is asking for help identifying two suspects who stole a bank bag with cash inside from Dion’s Quikmart at 6203 Overseas Highway in Marathon January 28.

At 6:45 p.m., the clerk at Dion’s discovered a bank bag missing from a safe in the store. He called the Sheriff’s Office to report the theft, and checked surveillance cameras to see what happened.

The cameras showed two men walking in the store. One stood near the counter, looking at DVDs and reading a pamphlet. He could be seen glancing over the counter at the partially open safe. The second man approached the counter and spoke with the clerk. The clerk then walked out from behind the counter to talk with the second man, turning his back to the counter.

When the clerk turned his back, the first suspect went behind the counter, ducked down and removed the bank bag from inside the safe. He then walked out the front door, followed a short time later by the second suspect.

Photos were captured from the surveillance video, showing the two men. Detective Wirth is hoping someone will recognize them and call the Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-289-2430. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted at www.tipsubmit.com.

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