DEP Arrests Manatee County Suspect on Felony Commercial Littering Charges

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DEP Arrests Manatee County Suspect on Felony Commercial Littering Charges

Manatee County

PALMETTO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announces the recent arrest of a Tampa resident on felony charges related to illegal dumping on private property.

Earlier this month, DEP's Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU) initiated an investigation upon discovering that large amounts of bentonite clay, a substance commonly used in horizontal drilling operations, were dumped on a private property in a remote area of Palmetto, Florida. 

During surveillance conducted over a two-day period, ECU agents captured the suspect using a commercial vehicle to illegally dump an estimated 1,000 gallons of the clay, covering approximately 704 square feet of soil at the property. 

On March 4, DEP arrested the suspect and charged him with two counts of felony commercial littering. The suspect was transported and booked into the Manatee County Jail without incident. DEP is coordinating with the suspect's employer to ensure proper cleanup of the area.

“DEP will not permit bad actors to jeopardize the health of our environment,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Perpetrators will be investigated and held accountable by DEP’s Environmental Crimes Unit, a team that works day in and day out to ensure the protection of Florida’s natural resources. We encourage all residents to do their part to safeguard their neighborhoods and report all confirmed or suspected environmental crimes immediately.”

To report incidents or suspected environmental crimes, the department encourages the general public to file complaints or concerns directly with the appropriate DEP district office or to contact the State Watch Office at 1-800-320-0519.