Landlocked: South Florida marine repair shop refuses to give owners their boats

(WSVN) - It looks like a busy boat repair shop with vessels packed tightly together, but the boat owners that took their boats there to be repaired can’t get them back. The Nightteam’s Patrick Fraser with tonight’s special assignment report, Landlocked.

As we watched Miami-Dade Police move onto the property armed with a search warrant to open the door, we could think of several boat owners who wished they could get in also.

Justice Joseph, can’t get boat: “It makes me very upset every time I go to see my boat.”

Justice took his boat to be repaired here and said he can’t get it back.

Giovanni said he has been trying to get his boat back for five years.

Giovanni Rossi, boat locked up for 5 years: “I couldn’t get it out. He had everything locked up, and the boat was surrounded by other boats.”

The boats are tightly packed at C & D Marine off Interstate 95 in Northeast Miami-Dade. A business owned by Carlos Armas, who said he repairs, sells and stores boats.

Some have clearly been here a while. One had a tree growing out of it. Many appear to be partially dismantled. Some look ready to hit the water.

Carlos Carrion Jr.: “Never. We have all the evidence of that.”

Carlos Carrion Sr. came from Puerto Rico, signed a contract and wrote a $16,000 check to Armas as a down payment on a boat, but Carlos said he can’t get the boat.

Carlos Carrion Jr: “And he was calling him, calling him. Trying to contact him, and we never heard of him.”

Three different people who are battling Armas. Several other people have sued Armas in court, claiming they can’t get their boats out of his repair shop.

Giovanni Rossi: “They know how to play the game to be able to take stuff from people.”

When police were raiding the property, Armas’ attorney showed up. He told them the disputes were all a civil matter, and that’s what boat owners were told when they called the police about C & D Marine.

Justice Joseph: “And they explained to me that it was a civil matter. I would have to take him to small claims court.”

Giovanni did sue Armas after he took his boat to C & D Marine to get the $40,000 engines taken off the boat, but then couldn’t get them back.

Giovanni Rossi: “I don’t know where he put it.”

Unable to get on the property to see if his boat was even there, we walked with Giovanni to a nearby parking garage.

Giovanni Rossi: “Wait, wait, wait. That’s the boat right there. 4009 GS. That’s my boat right there, but you see he don’t have engines.”

When Carlos couldn’t get this boat, he went to the police.

Carlos Carrion Jr: “We understand why this looks, at first, as a civil matter, but once you see a pattern, then you need to say, ‘Hey, something is happening.'”

Little did anyone know, Miami-Dade Police had the boat yard under surveillance and were ready to move in.

Miami-Dade Police Detective Angel Rodriguez: “Miami-Dade detectives had received numerous allegations of fraud and theft occurring at the C & D Marine.”

When police raided the property, Armas was not there. He would not return any of our phone calls, and his attorney didn’t want to talk about C & D Marine, but Miami-Dade Police told us they want to talk to the people who have dealt with Armas and his business.

Angel Rodriguez: “This is a very elaborate case, and we are asking the public — we are asking the community — that if they feel they have been a victim of the actions of this industry to please call our Crime Stoppers tip line.”

This lot, filled with boats, boats that many people want back.

Carlos Carrion Jr: “What my father wants is to stop him. He needs to give back what he has taken because it’s not his.”

Boats they want back to put in the water, and not be landlocked off I-95.

Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Miami-Dade Police say if you have any information about Carlos Armas or C and D Marine, please contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers 305-471-TIPS.

If you have more information you can also contact Patrick Fraser or Ambar Rodriguez at 305-795-2671.

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