Yesterday, Riptide visited Juan Martin, a registered sex offender who lives under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. The compact, bushy-haired thirty year-old lives in state-mandated colony of offenders under the bridge - a story New Times broke in March 2007. Now, he says, Miami Police are threatening to charge them with trespassing.
Back in 2007, New Times writer Isaiah Thompson reported there were about 20 men living in the shanty camp. That number has doubled.
Today, the area under the bridge is so packed that the men have begun to spill out onto nearby grassy stretches, where they are more visible from 195 West. Fifteen tents, three mobile homes, two shacks and a van were crammed under the bridge yesterday, along with a make-shift toilet and propane cooker. When the water from the bay rises, the 40 residents say they are pushed out.
Just after 4 a.m. yesterday, Martin says, five Miami cops showed up. They told the men on the edges of the bridge they are trespassing and must take down their shanty homes.
A source close to the sex offenders, who asked to remain nameless, said county commissioners have received complaints about their visibility.
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Says Martin: "There ain't no room. How much worse is this gonna get?"