VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. -- Drugs, cash and a weapon were found inside a "rather large" man's clothes when pulled over for a seat belt violation.
According to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, the man said he was "simply too large" to wear a belt. The following details come verbatim from VCSO's press release.
It was about 3:50 p.m. on Friday afternoon when a keen-eyed Sheriff's deputy positioned along S.R. 415 in Osteen spotted a car go by and noticed the passenger, a rather large man, wasn't wearing his seat belt.
When he stopped the vehicle, the deputy immediately noticed that both the driver and passenger were nervous. He also noticed that the passenger still wasn't wearing his seat belt.
At approximately 450 pounds, the passenger, 42-year-old Christopher Mitchell, said he was simply too large to wear the belt.
Due to growing suspicions, a Sheriff's drug-detecting K-9 was brought to the scene, and the dog quickly alerted to the presence of drugs.
The resulting investigation turned up some cocaine, 23 grams of marijuana hidden under Mitchell's stomach fat, a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun and more than $7,000 in cash stuffed into a tube sock.
The deputies also noticed something else. The vehicle's trunk and interior were sprinkled with carpet freshener and scented dryer sheets, a common tactic used to conceal the odor of drugs when they're being transported.
Both the driver, 38-year-old Keithian Roberts (DOB: 7/23/75) of Sanford and Mitchell (DOB: 9/7/71) of Deltona, ended up getting arrested. Roberts was charged with possession of cocaine and Mitchell was charged with possession of marijuana and also was cited for not wearing his seat belt.
But the arrests were no chance encounter. It was all part of a crime suppression operation conducted by the Sheriff's Office targeting crime and traffic enforcement in the Deltona area.
The operation kicked off at 10 a.m. on Friday and continued for 10 hours, with a number of deputies in both marked and unmarked vehicles saturating the Deltona community.
Dubbed Operation Summer Shield, the operation was designed to combat property crimes, illegal drugs and dangerous driving offenses, such as speeding, DUI, running traffic lights and stop signs and reckless driving.
The prime objective of the operations (there will be more of them throughout the summer) is to abate, discourage and displace crime through aggressive enforcement. Friday's operation did just that, resulting in 23 arrests, the issuance of 83 traffic citations and 14 criminal citations. Deputies also conducted 148 traffic stops.
Of the 23 arrests, five were for felony offenses, 16 were for misdemeanor charges and two were the result of open warrants.
The charges against Mitchell and Roberts were among the most serious. Some of the other charges included illegal possession of prescription drugs, driving with a suspended license, possession of drug paraphernalia and interference with child custody.