It started with a malfunctioning brake light. The Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol Thursday on County Road 305 noticed it on a Dodge Ram pickup towing a trailer. The deputy pulled the driver over. It was Christopher E. Raymond, 33, of 7 Burma Place in Palm Coast, who’d spent 10 of the last 15 years in prison.
The background check revealed Raymond to be a registered sex offender and a felon many times over: he was found guilty in 2004 of possessing child pornography, grand theft, burglary and a few other charges, and was sentenced to six years in prison. He was released in January 2010, and re-imprisoned for five years that November after another burglary conviction. He was released in December 2016.
The malfunctioning brake light was the least of it. The deputy had summoned a drug-sniffing canine, who promptly alerted his handler of the possible presence of narcotics in the vehicle. A probable cause search did produce a “digital scale with a crystal like residue on it,” which allegedly tested positive for methamphetamines, along with alleged methamphetamine in a hollowed out plastic pen and methamphetamine found in Raymond’s wallet, according to Raymond’s arrest report. But it was the weapons that stood out.
The search produced a bolt action .22 caliber rifle with a scope that had been hidden beneath various items on the rear passenger floorboard. On the front passenger side seat deputies found “what appeared to be a suppressor type device,” or silencer, that fit over the barrel of the .22. (Silencers are legal in Florida. But they are also defined by law as weapons, and so illegal when possessed by a convicted felon.) Also found was a single magazine with four live rounds of .22 caliber ammunition, a box of 15 rounds of rifle ammunition, six additional rounds of ammunition scattered through the interior of the truck, plus a stun gun and brass knuckles in the glove box. Raymond was also carrying eight live rounds of .22-caliber ammunition.
Raymond told deputies that the rifle was his grandfather’s. He also accused a man called “Archie” of planting the firearm in his truck to get him in trouble, though he said he had not had contact with Archie in two to three months. Raymond said he’d returned to the Mondex to pick up various things and had no idea how the firearm ended up in his truck.
Raymond was charged with several counts of possession of weaponry by a convicted felon and two drug charges. At the time of his arrest he was out on bond on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender.
The K-9 who contributed to the arrest was Axle, a one-and-a-half year old Belgian Malinois, one of three K-9s the sheriff’s office activated this week after 480 hours of training. It was the dog’s first arrest. The dog’s handler is deputy Aaron Beausoleil.
“Deputies never really know what they are walking into when they conduct a traffic stop,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release. “Here we had something that could have been a simple warning for a broken brake light but it turned into multiple felony charges, more poison off our streets and a sex offender back in jail. Who knows what other crimes this traffic stop may have prevented? I am extremely proud of our newest K-9 Axle who just graduated and is already getting bad guys off the street. K-9 Axle gets a special treat!”