Miami Gardens man pleads not guilty to capturing 3 Key deer in Lower Keys

Erik Damas Acosta, 18, released on $20,000 surety bond


KEY WEST, Fla. – An 18-year-old man from Miami Gardens pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court to capturing, harassing and harming three Key deer in the Lower Keys.

Authorities said Erik Yosmany Damas Acosta told Monroe County Sheriff's office deputies on July 2 in Little Torch Key that he didn't know the deer were protected when he and Tumani Anthony Younge, 23, of Tamarac, lured three of them with food, hog-tied them and put them in their car in a plan to take pictures with them.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission deputies found an adult male Key deer, a juvenile male Key deer and a female Key deer inside the car. Two were in the back seat of the car and another was in the trunk.

FWC spokesman Bobby Dube said one of the Key Deer had to be euthanized.

Damas Acosta was granted a $20,000 surety bond and was released to his family. He was ordered to surrender his passport. 

Damas Acosta and Younge each face three counts of violations of the Endangered Species Act, which carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

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