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Cooler search in Florida Keys leads to drug charges

This started as a fish tale.

It ended with a felony drug charge.

Two Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers were searching for conservation violations in the Keys one recent evening, the night before the opening of the commercial and recreational lobster season. When they asked a Homestead, Florida, man to open his cooler, they reportedly then located several fish that were undersized.

The officers also found marijuana and pills, as detailed in the arrest report.

The 30-year-old Homestead man was booked into Monroe County Jail on a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance, as well as misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession. He also faces three conservation charges relating to the officers’ finding of three undersized yellowtail snappers, one undersized mangrove snapper and three undersized mutton snappers, according to the investigator’s report.

His bond was set at $7,000.

The investigator said in his report that he smelled a “strong odor of marijuana emanating” from the man. He then searched him and located two small bags of marijuana, along with a pill that was identified as acetaminophen and oxycodone hydrochloride, according to the report.

Another Homestead man who had been fishing with the 30-year-old man also faces three conservation charges. On that day, the wildlife officers also charged at least four other people with conservation violations.

The Homestead man will want to consult with a Florida defense attorney to discuss the details of his arrest in this case. An attorney can review the circumstances to make sure the search and seizure, and all other details, were properly handled. Drug charges can have serious consequences.