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2 teens seen dumping trash into ocean off Boca Raton turn themselves in

Video garners national attention, sparks intense scrutiny on social media
Posted at 5:04 PM, May 03, 2024

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Two teens caught on video dumping trash into the ocean last Sunday near the Boca Raton Inlet have turned themselves in to authorities, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a Friday afternoon statement.

One of the teens is a 15-year-old from Gulf Stream and the other is a 16-year-old from Boynton Beach.

Arrest reports for both teens state they each face a third-degree felony of causing pollution so as to harm or injure human health or welfare, animal, plant, or aquatic life or property.

The report said both teens were booked at the Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center. They were released at 7:45 p.m. Friday.

The State Attorney's Office has 30 days to decide whether to charge them as adults.

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The video of the incident garnered national attention this week and sparked intense scrutiny on social media.

FWC officers said they began receiving complaints on Monday in response to the video, which showed several teens on a boat traveling out of the inlet following the annual Boca Bash event.

Two of the boat's occupants were caught on video emptying large garbage cans full of bottles and trash into the ocean before returning to the event.

Video recorded by a drone showed the trash scattered across the surface of the ocean.

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FWC said investigators were able to quickly identify the two suspects and then worked with prosecutors to determine suitable charges for their violations.

The arrest report said they used the boat's registration to track down the owner of the 40-foot vessel, who is the father of one of the boys. The father told investigators that "this is not a representation ... of who we are," and asked that they arrange a time to meet with their legal counsel present.

Investigators also interviewed two other teens aboard the boat when the trash was dumped into the ocean, who both positively identified the two suspects.

"The illegal dumping of trash in our marine environment is a serious crime, and we worked closely with the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office to determine appropriate charges. Callous disregard for Florida's environment will not be tolerated. This is a teaching moment for all those involved — Florida's natural resources are precious, and we should all do our part to protect them," FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto said in a statement.

"The negative impact this type of deliberate pollution has on our beaches, reef system, and estuaries cannot be understated," Major Dustin Bonds, the South Alpha Regional Commander, said. "This type of criminal activity harms our wildlife and undermines the investment made by the people of Florida to keep our unique ecosystem healthy."

A public relations representative sent WPTV the following statement on behalf of the parents of one of the teens involved:

"We take the responsibility of caring for our oceans and our community very seriously, and we are extremely saddened by what occurred last weekend at Boca Bash. We want to extend our sincerest apologies to everyone who has been impacted and rightfully upset by what occurred.

Our family and our counsel have remained in touch with FWC since we were first contacted by them and have continued to cooperate with all authorities.

As a family, we agree with FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto that this is a teaching moment for the young kids involved and they should certainly participate in community service and ocean conservation efforts to deepen their understanding of the importance of our community and environment."

--The Parents of One of the Young Teens Involved