Palm Beach County man charged with attempting to import illegal catch from the Bahamas

MIAMI - A Bahamian national residing in Palm Beach County, Fla., was arrested Wednesday on a warrant issued as a result a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), North Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

According to the indictment, on or about Feb. 19, Van Bodden-Martinez attempted to import spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), queen conch (Strombus gigus), and yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), all of which had been harvested without first acquiring a permit to engage in fishing and in violation of the possession limits for each of the species set forth in the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

In a separate count of the indictment, the government is also pursuing the forfeiture of the illegal catch. According to the allegations of the indictment, approximately 45 spiny lobster tails, 343.5 pounds of queen conch, 42 yellowtail snapper, and two insulated ice-chest coolers are subject to forfeiture as a result of Bodden-Martinez' violation of U.S. and Bahamian law.

If convicted of the charge, Bodden-Martinez faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and supervised release of up to three years.