2 face felony charges for balloon pollution in Biscayne Bay; could face a prison sentence

MIAMI – A 26-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man face criminal charges for throwing balloons into Biscayne Bay after they were used to decorate a yacht during a marriage proposal.

A shared witness a video on Instagram and environmentalists were outraged. Marine animals often mistake deflated, non-biodegradable balloons for jellyfish. Turtles eat it. Seabirds feed their young.

Miami-Dade police also issued civil citations with more than $23,000 in fines for the illegal dumping at the Bayshore Landing Marina in Coconut Grove. It was a more painful learning experience for Martina Gaspoz and David Torres-Bocanegra, who both worked on the boat.

Officers arrested Gaspoz on Friday and Torres-Bocanegra on Wednesday. They face charges of willful disregard for the environment, a third degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment for 5 years, or both. Gaspoz’s bail was set at $5,000.

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Torres-Bocanegra was first arrested for reckless disregard for the environment, a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or 60 days in jail, or both. His bail was set at $500. Detective Angel Rodriguez later clarified there was an error in the charge.

Detectives did not consider the couple who got engaged on Tuesday as the culprits. Instead, officers issued citations to the two companies – the event planner and yacht charter – that the groom-to-be hired.

Additionally, not everyone who received a $2,510 citation touched the balloons or was present for the celebration.

The Dessideria D’Caro De Capriles, of Doral, is the owner of the charter yacht. Gabriela Castillo was the event coordinator. Francisco Feo was the manager of the charter company. The agents also cited Tulio Capriles, Iulia Tyshchenko, Viacheslav Diadiura and Efrain Hernandez.

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Environmental advocates want Miami-Dade officials to do more.

the Florida Ocean Cleanup Societya non-profit organization created a Change.org petition asking Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Bay Chief, and commissioners to pilot a new ordinance banning balloons and confetti in coastal waters.

“Banning balloons and confetti will not solve the pollution problem. However, we believe it is important and necessary bring about a cultural change, the petitioner wrote adding, “We implore Miami-Dade County to pass legislation to protect our ecosystem and increase environmental awareness among boaters and the rental industry.”

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For more stories about protecting Biscayne Bay, visit the Don’t Trash Our Treasure page. Local 10 News Environmental advocate Louis Aguirre leads the team.

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See related reports

Don’t throw away our treasure: 6 p.m., May 11

Environmentalists have a request for South Florida boaters: Don’t tie balloons on your boat. These will harm wildlife.

Night report: 11 p.m., May 11

Tom Rivas said he chartered a yacht for an engagement proposal. Cloud Nine, who specializes in romantic proposals, helped plan the event. Everything went well. She said yes!” But hours later, the fitness trainer’s event was linked to pollution in Biscayne Bay. Officers arrested a suspect and issued nine citations on Wednesday.

Afternoon report: 4 p.m., May 11

Investigators are aiming to identify a man who recently dumped balloons in Biscayne Bay.


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