The Belize Coast Guard on patrol on Crayfish Caye, Turneffe Atoll made a bust on Friday February 19. As a result of the bust they handed over three men and 243 lobsters to the Fisheries Department who promptly took the men over to the Magistrate's Court where they were charged.
Fisheries prosecutor, Hampton Gamboa, escorted the three men, identified as 53 year old George Marin, a resident of #2807 Jesus Ken Street, Belama Phase 2 area; 24 year old Angel Tun, a resident and Electrician of Peter Ashdown Street, Belama Phase 2 along with 30 year old Raymond Petzold, a resident of #351 Belama Phase 2 area; where they appeared before Magistrate Deborah Rogers being jointly charged with one count of possession of lobster in the closed season.
Initially all three men pleaded not guilty to the charge and bail was offered to them in the sum of $1,000 each plus one surety of the same amount. During his appearance George Marin asked permission to speak and that is when he told the court that Fisheries personnel had threatened them that their traps would be destroyed and that was the reason they brought them up and kept the lobsters. Since they did not want the lobsters to spoil, they placed them on ice and that is why they are now being charged.
While the men were awaiting bail in the holding cell, one of them changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. That man, Raymond Petzold, told the court that he does not have time to be coming back and forth to court on the matter. Even with the guilty plea the Magistrate explained to him that it is not a waste of time, if he knows he is not guilty of the offense, that is when he said he was guilty of the charge while Marin and Tun maintained a not guilty plea.
When he pleaded guilty to the charge, Fisheries Prosecutor, Hampton Gamboa withdrew the charges from Marin and Tun.
For the offense, Magistrate Rogers imposed a $500.00 fine plus a $5.00 cost of court. He was additionally charged $20 for each lobster which totalled to $4,860.00, bringing the overall total to $5,366.00 which she ordered him to pay by June 30, 2016 in default of payment, eight months imprisonment.