Two Immokalee men were arrested Thursday when deputies found them with 4,600 pounds of illegally harvested saw palmetto berries, according to a release from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
Daniel Navarrete, 23, and David Casillas, 19, are charged with harvesting berries without a permit, grand theft and fleeing and eluding.
Under Florida law pickers must have a permit from the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and permission from the property owner to harvest the berries on private property.
The harvesting season for the berry runs from late July to October with them typically being commercially distilled to create a natural supplement and pharmaceuticals for men’s health issues.
Navarete and Casillas, who didn’t have permits or permission to remove the berries from the property owner’s land, are accused of fleeing from deputies in separate vehicles after they and others were observed by the sheriff’s aviation unit harvesting berries around 12:30 a.m. near 28th Avenue Southeast and Everglades Boulevard South.
The offense is a misdemeanor, but the men face felony charges for grand theft and fleeing.
Deputies confiscated more than 20 large bags of harvested betties weighing 4,600 pounds from inside the vehicles, the arrest reports state. The value of the berries was estimated at $5,400.
Four passengers in Navarette’s vehicle were given notices to appear in court and released.