MIAMI – A 29-year-old man is facing a criminal charge after detectives accused him of throwing deflated balloons into Biscayne Bay on Tuesday at the Bayshore Landing Marina in Miami’s Coconut Grove.
David Torres-Bocanegra, of Homestead, disposed of about 50 balloons while working on a chartered yacht at the marina and he confessed to the crime, according to the arrest form.
“I am extremely proud of our illegal dumping unit for their thorough investigation and swift conclusion to this case,” Miami-Dade Police Interim Director George A. Perez said in a statement.
Officers arrested Torres-Bocanegra at about 9:20 p.m., on Wednesday, in Homestead. Corrections officers booked him at about 3:35 a.m., on Thursday, at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
The balloons decorated the yacht that Tom Rivas, a Miami fitness coach, chartered for a marriage proposal. Cloud Nine, a family-owned event planner, alleged a balloon vendor was involved. Rivas said he was inside the yacht taking pictures when a witness recorded a video showing the disposal of the balloons. The witness shared it on Instagram.
“We honestly had no idea until we saw the videos,” Rivas later wrote on Instagram adding he received hateful messages.
Environmentalists were outraged. The deflated balloons float on the surface of the water. Turtles, seabirds, and other marine animals mistake the non-biodegradable material for jellyfish and eat it.
Officers also issued 10 civil citations with a $2,510 fine each for illegal dumping.
Aside from Torres-Bocanegra and Cloud Nine, officers also issued the citations to HD2 Yacht Service, Tulio Capriles, Francisco Feo, Iulia Tyshchenko, Viacheslav Diadiura, Gabriela Castillo, Dessideria D’Caro De Capriles, and Efrain Hernandez.
Officers identified D’Caro De Capriles, of Doral, as the owner of the yacht; Castillo, of Kendall West, as the event coordinator; and Feo, of Fontainebleau, as the person in charge of the charter company.
Records show Torres-Bocanegra is facing a charge of reckless disregard for the environment, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or 60 days in jail, or both. His bond was set at $500.
Read the arrest form’s narrative
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🚨ARREST MADE: Our Illegal Dumping Unit has made an arrest in a crime where individuals on a yacht were popping balloons & illegally dumping them into the water. In addition to the arrest, 10 civil citations were issued to the other individuals involved, totaling over $25,000. pic.twitter.com/I1PoA7uo8G— Miami-Dade Police (@MiamiDadePD) May 12, 2022