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3 Arrests Yield Stash of Weapons, Cash and Drugs–and Former Member of Mosquito Control Board

| March 1, 2018

The weapons recovered from  15 Fariston Place on February 1. (FCSO)

The weapons recovered from 15 Fariston Place on February 1. (FCSO)

At 1:15 this afternoon units of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office descended on a house at 196 Pine Grove Drive in Palm Coast, executed a search warrant, seized 5.31 pounds of marijuana, 719 grams of hash oil, and $46,000 in stacks of cash. Felix Vega, a 20-year-old resident at the house, was arrested and charged with two felony counts of pot possession with intent to deliver. He’s not likely to stay in jail long: his bond is just $5,500.


But his arrest is the culmination of an investigation stretching back weeks, and with a significant break a month ago when members of the sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit executed a search warrant at 15 Faristone Place in palm Coast, where an arsenal of rifles and guns was uncovered—in the alleged illegal possession of a felon—as was marijuana and a stash of cash of almost $8,500.

Two men were arrested in that bust: Morgan Michael Byrnes, 27, and Shawn Timothy Byrnes, 63, were arrested at the residence, though both were released on bond the same day. Morgan Byrnes was re-arrested two weeks later on similar charges, plus battery on a law enforcement officer—and released on bond last Monday.

Felix Vega.

Felix Vega.

So Sheriff Rick Staly’s quote in a news release issued this afternoon by the Sheriff’s Office—“Our SIU detectives did a great job connecting these two poison peddlers and taking them both into custody and out of our community”—was only half accurate by the time the release was issued: the investigators did their part, but so did the law, which enables individuals to post bond and walk free.

Shawn Byrnes is not unknown locally: he’d run unsuccessfully for Palm Coast City Council in 1999 and 2007 (he was defeated in 2007 in a race that eventually elected Frank Meeker), and he was an elected member of East Flagler Mosquito Control district for almost a decade, starting in 2008. He was its treasurer when the district board elected to build a $1.8 million facility in 2015, a decision that last year unraveled into a financial crisis as the district discovered that it was in a deficit almost as large. The district attributed the loss to an accounting error. Byrnes by then was off the board.

Morgan Byrnes’s first local run-in with law enforcement dates back only to last October, when he was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and possessing a small amount of pot. Those charges are still pending, with that case next slated for a court hearing on April 11. But he’s a convicted felon (out of St. Johns County, on drug charges from 2009), and faces felony charges of possessing weapons by a convicted felon.

Shawn Byrnes.

Shawn Byrnes.

It was not a modest arsenal. It included loaded handguns out in the open, and the discovery in a safe of five handguns, three rifles and three shotguns.  (When deputies asked Shawn for the safe’s combination, Morgan shouted out, according to his arrest report: “Lawyer Shawn! Lawyer!”).

 The $8,433 in cash was also found in the safe, along with drugs. Though Morgan had told deputies he did not want to speak to them without an attorney, he told them that after buying some of the weapons he ran their serial numbers through a Florida Department of Law Enforcement website to make sure they were not stolen

Morgan Byrnes.

Morgan Byrnes.

Shawn Byrne’s arrest was based in part on his having medical pot oil in a vaporizer and a medical pot card  from  Michigan, not Florida, but also on other drug paraphernalia and a hashish possession, a felony (as opposed to the more minor other misdemeanors).

The warrant was served at the Fariston Place house after detectives got several tips through CrimeStoppers about the house. The investigation led to the discovery of Vega, termed an associate of Morgan Byrnes’s by the sheriff, “and suggested that the two were co-conspirators in a lucrative cannabis distribution ring,” the sheriff’s release states.

“We have knowledge of previous violent crimes in Flagler County surrounding marijuana sales to include home invasions and attempted murder,” the sheriff is quoted as saying in the release. Further charges are pending on Morgan Byrnes and Vega as the investigation continues.

For the sheriff, the find adds a considerable amount of money in the agency’s asset forfeiture funds, which are then used either to award grants to local organizations whose programs can show some benefit of keeping crime down (such as after school programs that keep youths off the streets) or to pay for agency perks such as the recent purchase of an antique sheriff’s vehicle.

The drugs and cash.

The drugs and cash.

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44 Responses for “3 Arrests Yield Stash of Weapons, Cash and Drugs–and Former Member of Mosquito Control Board”

  1. Anonymous says:

    That last photograph is beautiful. I get a warm fuzzy feeling just looking at it. Definitely not worth the legal trouble, but still beautiful.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why are their bonds so low?

  3. another vet says:

    posted bond probably back in business already

  4. Steve Vanne says:

    Bond $5500 what a joke…

  5. woodchuck says:

    Shawn and Morgan needed those shot guns for the really big mosquito’s.

  6. PCer says:

    Legalize it and it won’t be an issue.

  7. Freddy says:

    Another good bust from our FCSO thank you.

  8. Dave says:

    What poison?! What is this sheriff even talking about by calling them poison pushers,no drugs were found, just marijuana which is a medicine, Expect more people providing medicine for the sick if you wont legalize it in you city

  9. fingerprints says:

    I wonder if these cases are connected. This was around 2/11/2018 “Texas state troopers over the weekend nabbed a 63-year-old Flagler Beach man who they said was heading home with 82 pounds of marijuana in his trunk.”

    http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20180214/flagler-beach-man-captured-in-texas-with-82-pounds-of-pot-authorities-say

  10. Yeah not getting my name says:

    This sure makes me glad that I have guns, knowing that this stuff is going on in my backyard

  11. Concerned res says:

    Why so low bond? These thugs get out the next day lock’em up Staly!

  12. Jenn says:

    Are you kidding me with that bond amount? They’re probably running their business as usual. Why were they not booked without a bond what is wrong with the system?

  13. Really says:

    Low end losers

  14. Mm patient says:

    Please stop wasting people’s money on this bullshit.there is real drugs out there that hurt ppl.this is a waste.how far back in the 1800’s is this sheriff calling them “poison peddlers ” no rick that’s the guys your department seems not to bother. Stop creating crime and actually spend some time trying to stop it.this town is full of real drugs that kill people destroy families and you dummiare still proud of a lot bust .what a joke.pethitic

  15. Mm patient says:

    Considering you can buy this “poison ” now in every state.irs safer then peanuts,flagler is infested with junkies and drugs that destroy families and kill people everyday,and you just braced about arresting a 63 year old man 🤔great job wasting resources that could save lifes to capture and remove a harmless plant🤗

  16. Layla says:

    After seeing all this, I am wondering why the bail is so low and what they would have to do to be kept longer.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Good job sheriff , I am sure there are more of these scums out there, keep us safe

  18. Linze says:

    We need better judges and laws,keep them in jail

  19. mark101 says:

    Good job sheriff , keep it up/. Get these low life’s off the streets at least for a day or two. The big issue here, is “illegal gun possession of a felon”. A quick way for a nut job to get a gun is from a felon.

  20. Just the truth says:

    scum bags

  21. Really says:

    One has to understand it ,Weed, is still illegal in FL per recreational use, just sayin.

  22. Bc. says:

    Wow you got bigger fish to fry pot is almost legal in many states and more to follow use you resources to go after the hard drug pushers that are killing people. I haven’t heard of anyone dying from pot. And to make such a big deal out of this bust. Low level pot dealers are not killing our youth go and get the big fish that will save lives. This only hurts the fast food restaurants lol.

  23. Really says:

    @bc felons with guns are a big deal to me anyway

  24. Trailer Bob says:

    It is not that pot is so dangerous people, but that these criminals were running an illegal operation and had a large amount of guns that I doubt were for hunting. May they were for protection, but why so many and people do the wrong things sometimes with guns when they are operating a criminal operation. Do you really think Staly should just look the other way? Can you say for sure that these guns wouldn’t end up killing someone with regard to the illegal pot operation? And what the hell is with these low bonds? IF you cannot keep them locked up, take and drop them off in another state.

  25. C Johnson says:

    It is a straightforward concept. Marijuana is still illegal for recreational use in the State of Florida. Now, if the law says that possession of this substance is Illegal, YOU WILL get arrested. To those who say it is “Harmless,” that is not the issue at hand. The fact of the matter is, they committed a crime according to the laws set before us, and they will pay the price!

    If you are caught speeding on an empty road, even though you didn’t put anyone in danger, you still violated the law. It doesn’t matter if you hurt anyone, you will get thrown in the slammer. Rules are rules.

  26. Jolene dehart says:

    All I see in this story is “out on bond”, more crimes, out on bond again, re-arrested, out on bond. Felon with guns, out on bond. Arrested again, out on bond. Something is wrong here. The same with the docket, crimes, out on probation, VOP, out again on probation, VOP again, bond, more probation.

  27. Anonymous says:

    ITS JUST POT. THERE ARE 15 YEAR OLDS DOING METH IN FLAGLER. PAY ATTENTION. 🙄

  28. Dave says:

    These crimes arent a big deal, thats why bond is low, its judt marijuana and no one cares about a lil marijuana, stop wasting our tax dollars locking up pot dealers, heck the county needs them since marijuana dispensarys are not allowed.

  29. David S. says:

    Same crap different day…….

  30. The Mon says:

    The problem is clear right here on these comment boards, you have people that still think of those that smoke a lil weed as scum, like really? Look around, everyone smokes weed, some are just better at hiding it than others. Sheriff Mcgruff the crime dog over here calling it poison meanwhile the state of Florida considers it medicine as per voters, shame the lengths people go to seem like a “hero”…

  31. Anonymous says:

    Is that a ar 16 in the picture

  32. thomas says:

    Who was the kind hearted “judge”. I would like to know so I can spread the word.

  33. Really says:

    Look who cares about the meth heads they didnt get caught with guns as convicted felons. Maybe the meth head 15 yr olds are next. I agree its just pot but its just still illegal. Didnt see an MD after any of those charged lol. They got caught operating period

  34. Anonymous says:

    Do something about the drugs that are killing, not the one that will be legal in just a matter of time. This is so blown out of proportion. Just because Shawn was in the house doesn’t make him guilty. Who did the guns and pot belong to? Sounds like their may have been a lot of frequent flyers in that house. I want FCSO to do something about the meth and other drugs that are killing people!!!

  35. Anonymous says:

    The guy who got the $5,500 bail had no criminal record and was arrested for cannabis, so why are people acting so surprised? It was his first offense for intent to distribute a non-lethal drug that is decriminalized in many places and is less dangerous than alcohol. I am not so much trying to defend pot, I am just wondering why people are so quick to demonize these people. These clearly are not violent thugs, just some idiots who have no business running an illegal enterprise and got in way over their heads. They look like the kind of people who are goofy comic relief characters in stoner comedies.

  36. Anonymous says:

    To all those who say “ITS ONLY POT” ~ members of the sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit executed a search warrant at 15 Faristone Place in palm Coast, where an arsenal of rifles and guns was uncovered—in the alleged illegal possession of a felon—as was marijuana and a stash of cash of almost $8,500.~ the POT seems NOT to be #1on the list of there arrests. It reads more to the fact of convicted felons with ILLEGALLY owned guns.

  37. Mm patient says:

    First off in the end the gun charges are never going to stick.shawn is not a convicted felon it’s his house and all firearms where legally obtained. They are making it sound like more then it is by adding a gun charge that will never stick.basically creating crime by charging Morgan with poss by a felon is not even the correct charge in this case.keep an eye on this and it will be obvious that at most Morgan may possibly be able to get charged with “constructive poss of fire arm by felon ” however if all guns are Shawn obviously there is no merit to the charge in the first place.the gun charge is to some how not make them look like they did a petty pot bust.the gun charge is completely bogus.

  38. Daphne says:

    Take the guns out of this picture and you still have intent to distribute. These aren’t folks looking to help patients. This is a double whammy – illegal guns and intent to distribute. The bond amount is laughable.

  39. Anonymous says:

    But a DUI is worse than that? The system is all backwards

  40. Hm says:

    Yea Need to get the heroin and meth dealers with all that cash and amount of product. They are the real poison peddlers we need off our streets. Teenagers on meth and heroin already in THIS county and still the pot is the poison. Guns are everywhere. Get the guns with the drugs that are killing people… please.

  41. Hm says:

    And I noticed this individual did not have any weapons. He was “tied” to someone who did? Really….

  42. Dave says:

    Daphne ,how do you knw these gentlemen weren’t dealing to patients? Most users of marijuana use it for wellness of life,as long as he wasn’t selling to kids his buyers were more than likely medical marijuana patients.

  43. Mm patient says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, the main person involved in harder drug pushing, bailed from 15 Fariston less than 30 minutes before the swat team arrived; further re-inforcing the neighborhood perception that this person is being tipped off. Fifteen minutes after they arrived home after bonding out, their runners showed up at 1:15 am and picked up right where they left off! The activity continues, however the patterns have changed.

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