News Cast 4/4

News Cast for April 4th:

The locks at Taylor Creek will be shut down for maintenance and study from April 18 to May 4th

The South Florida Water Management District plans to do some structural repairs and see what it will take to replace the lakeside gate. 

District Spokesperson Libby Pigman said they want boaters to know. 

“We will be notifying people that live around there.  We felt like this was probably the best time to do this work.  It is after most of our northern visitors have left and is before the rainy season starts.  Hopefully the rain will hold off and we will have the work completed by May 4.” 

27 arrests of alleged drug traffickers in Southwest Florida were announced on Friday. 

Glades and Hendry county deputies contributed to the operation as part of NETFORCE, a task force of lawmen in southwest Florida. 

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno the law enforcement partnership is working. 

“You are looking at amazing people that represent departments all across south west Florida who came together as a team.  Drug dealers don’t respect boundaries.  They push poison every chance they get.  It is their living, it is what they do.  The message is clear here…zero tolerance.” 

The investigation also seized two pounds of fentanyl, 1,000 grams of cocaine about $200,000 worth, and over $146,000 in cash. 

Last week was national farmworkers awareness week. 

Mike Rios with the US Department of Labor southeast region spoke about educating growers, labor contractors and workers on their rights and responsibilities. 

They investigate a number of wage violations and do encounter human trafficking and even unlawful farm labor contractors. 

“The wage violations are the ones that tend to be the overarching investigations for us related to the H-2A program.  That can be because of US workers earning a lower rate of pay than H-2A workers.  What we do when we find that violation, we compute what is owed in back wages.” 

He said they keep an eye on labor contractors. 

“Many workers fall prey to egregious violations of their worker rights and human rights.  We use every tool to combat this.  Federal law empowers us to debar H-2A contractors from receiving subsequent certification.” 

Rios said a multi-state racketeering conspiracy in Florida involving multiple H-2A workers who were victimized by death, complicated passports, and threats against family members, recently resulted in a court indictment.


The Elliott Museum in Stuart recently opened a new exhibit on the exploits of the Ashley Gang. 

They robbed banks, broke jail, and caused havoc in South Florida in the 1910s and 1920s. 

Their main hideouts in the Everglades south of Lake Okeechobee. 

Some account about $1 million dollars in stolen liquor and cash to his gang. 

John Ashley hooked up with Laura Upthegrove of Okeechobee and spent plenty of time in Okeechobee County. 

Historian Steve Carr said the gang was violent but not to the level of Bonnie and Clyde. 

“Bonnie and Clyde were a bit more vicious in how they carried out crimes.  John Ashley didn’t kill anyone during a robbery.  However, he was tried for murder and was acquitted.  He was never convicted of murder.’ 

Carr said the gang got a lot of support in farm country as they provided cash and food to many families. 

He challenged the official account of Ashley’s capture and shooting death in 1924 in Sebastian stating Ashley was handcuffed and murdered by lawmen. 

He also challenges the official suicide claim for Upthegrove’s death in Canal Point in 1927. 

The museum plans to hold a mock trial in the future to review Ashley’s trial in the shooting death of Seminole trapper Desoto Tiger.  He was killed in 1911 after last being seen with Ashley in a canoe full of otter pelts. 

Ashley was found to have sold 84 otter pelts in Miami for $1,200.