Man comes on vacation and ends in detention

Yansel Garrido kisses a juvenile nurse shark in this still shot from a Facebook video shot while on vacation in the Florida Keys.

State Attorney Dennis Ward will seek jail time for a tourist accused of killing and filleting a Goliath grouper, tormenting a nurse shark and harvesting and eating six undersized spiny lobster.

Jacksonville resident Yansel Garrido turned himself into authorities on Tuesday and was booked into jail after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation secured a warrant for his arrest on several fishery violations after he posted on Facebook several photos and videos of himself filleting the Goliath grouper, cooking the undersize lobster tails on the grill and he and his family swimming with the nurse shark in a chlorinated pool at a Marathon vacation rental in August, according to the arrest report.

The FWC report included the Facebook posts.

The FWC started the investigation after FWC Capt. David Dipre was alerted to the Facebook posts and reached out to investigators. The video showed a very small nurse shark swimming in the bottom of a swimming pool. A young boy dives down and grabs the nurse shark and hands it to a bearded Hispanic adult male. The man then shows it to some of the other guests on the pool deck before the video cuts off, the FWC report stated.

The Facebook page belongs to Garrido, and the video was posted on Aug. 24, 2020, and indicated it was filmed in Marathon, the FWC officers stated. Further investigation revealed other photos on the Facebook page displaying other resource violations at this location.

The first violation FWC observed was Garrido in possession of a Goliath grouper, both a state and federally protected species that is closed to harvest. One picture showed he had Goliath grouper on the dock at the above residence. Another picture showed him later scaling and cutting the grouper on a fillet table. These pictures were posted on Aug. 27, the report stated.

Another video, which is titled “Little Sand Shark!,” was posted on Aug. 24. Garrido had caught and was in possession of an undersized nurse shark. The minimum size limit to harvest a nurse shark is 54 inches in length. The video shows Garrido clothed in turquoise swim trunks holding the nurse shark. The shark is no more than 24 inches in length, according to the FWC.

Later in the video, a young boy is shown freediving down to the bottom of a freshwater chlorinated swimming pool. The same undersize nurse shark is shown swimming on the bottom of the pool. The shark is obviously lethargic and in distress, FWC officers stated.

The young boy grabs the shark and hands him up to Garrido. The shark is extremely sluggish and near death. It shows no resistance or ability to fight or get away. Garrido takes the shark and shows it to some of his guests. The video does not indicate what he does with the undersized nurse shark after being retrieved from the chlorinated pool. The shark was been tormented by being placed in a chlorinated pool and deprived of necessary sustenance, which is a violation of state law, the report stated.

In another video posted on Aug. 24, Garrido can be seen cooking at least six undersized spiny lobster on a barbecue grill, according to the FWC.

FWC investigator Chris Mattson called Garrido last week and explained to him that the FWC had an active warrant for his arrest in Monroe County. He was very surprised. Mattson then described to him the violations that were on the arrest warrant, the arrest report stated.

Garrido told Mattson that they found the shark and he will do whatever it takes to fix the problem. “As far as I know I haven’t done anything wrong,” Garrido told Mattson.

Mattson explained that he had caught a Goliath grouper and that is a prohibited species. Garrido responded: “What the hell is that? I thought it was a just a fish,” the report stated.

“I’m not going to jail. I have a family to support, I’m not going to jail,” Mattson quoted Garrido as saying.

Capt. Dipre called Garrido’s action a “complete, blatant disregard” of fishery laws. Dipre also called allowing the young boy to swim with the nurse shark dangerous and unsafe.

“There are ramifications for such actions and those ramifications are jail,” Ward said. “This is egregious.”

Ward plans to discuss the case with prosecutors to determine what the appropriate jail time would be if Garrido is convicted, Ward said.

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