Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy Philip Conway was off duty around lunchtime on Monday when he noticed Joseph Colon at the wheel of a white Nissan SUV–ironically, a Rogue: Colon is well known to local cops. He’s been booked at the county jail about 10 times in the last 10 years, serving two stints in state prison along the way, both for drug-related crimes. The last was a year-and-a-half sentence ending in September 2015.
What the deputy also knew was that Colon’s driver’s license had been revoked. So he started following the 34-year-old resident of 21 Ballenger Lane in Palm Coast as Colon drove south on U.S. 1, calling in the sighting to detective Augustine Rodriguez, who picked up the quiet surveillance in an unmarked car around East Moody Boulevard in Bunnell as Colon parked at Frazier’s Mini Storage, not far from the Government Services Building. Rodriguez confirmed with himself that it was Colon, then called for a marked patrol cars.
As Colon was seen entering a bathroom, the detective and deputy Fiona Ebril called out to him and placed him under arrest for driving on a suspended license, but soon uncovered the first of what would allegedly turn out to be a stash of drugs on his person and, after a K-9 sniffed it out, in his car. By the time the search was over he’d allegedly been found carrying heroin laced with fentanyl, crack cocaine, several varieties of prescription drugs.
After he was read his Miranda rights, detectives interviewed Colon at the Sheriff’s Operation Center. He admitted that he was carrying heroin, according to his arrest report, and that he would sell the stuff in individual baggies for $20 a pop, with each bag containing a tenth of a gram of heroin. But he didn’t know or wouldn’t say whether the heroin contained fentanyl, the very fast-acting narcotic with many more times the potency of morphine. As for the crack, he said he was holding it for a “girl I mess with,” according to his arrest report. He says he sold portions of the prescription drugs, depending on the type (hydromorphone and Xanax), and held back oxycodone for his own use.
Fentanyl is now widely used in opioid medicines, but it is also blamed as one of the factors in the exploding opioid crisis. The number of deaths from overdoses attributed to heroin and prescription drugs has more than quadrupled since 1999, with 64,000 deaths last year alone–more than deaths from gunshots or car crashes.
Drug dealers are among the culprits as a larger portion of drug-related deaths results from illegally obtained drugs. But as President Trumps own commission concluded in its interim report last summer and issued by the White House, “We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation.”
Substantially to blame, in other words, are pharmaceutical companies producing and pushing the hyper-potent pain-killers (even though the level of pain Americans are reporting has not increased since 1999), physicians prescribing and over-prescribing medication, leading to addiction, and insurers that keep their clients from buying less expensive, less addictive painkillers, because the more lethal kind is more profitable to insurers’ and drug companies’ bottom lines.
News stories frequently focus on street-level arrests with little to no context for the broader origins of the crisis: there seldom are arrests in doctor’s offices, in hospitals, in pharmaceutical or insurance companies’ board rooms. But heroin aside (at least non-fentanyl-laced heroin), street-level dealers would have nothing to sell without better placed and richly marketed purveyors of what law enforcement officials routinely and, judging from the numbers, accurately call “poison” when it is found in dealers’ baggies. Only it is easier to make a case against a man caught with illegal drugs and admitting to selling them than it is against more sophisticated purveyors of the same products selling it from behind opaque institutions and moats of legalities that make individual responsibility less tractable.
Colon was arrested not far from a public park, which may increase the severity of the charges he faces. He was booked at the county jail on charges of driving on a suspended license, possession with intent to sell prescription drugs, cocaine and heroin, and trafficking heroin. The lot results in four first-degree felonies, each of which carry penalties of up to 30 years in prison. He is being held on $131,000 bond and is to be arraigned before Circuit Judge Dennis Craig on Dec. 18.
“This dealer was out and ready to sell poison – he already had baggies ready to sell to the next person who wanted to get high,” Sheriff Rick Staly was quoted as saying in a release on the arrest issued Tuesday afternoon. “Thankfully our off-duty deputy recognized him and alerted us so that we could get him off the streets. We will not sit back and watch this epidemic continue while poison peddlers kill people.”
Just the truth says
why do these scum bags keep getting out to do the same crimes over and over again. When is enough, enough?
Good job FCSO! Get these scrimmage off our streets. A big thank you!
BW 59 says
GOOD JOB THERE FCSO
So start going after the REAL problem and not just these easy soft targets. Would love to see you bring down the doctors and companies responsible for the problem and not just these low level peddlers. GET TO WORK COPS!
Wash rinse repeat on this guy geez 10x when is it too many already.
Maybe this dealer won’t be let go on bail over “Announcement of no Information” on his hearing like all the other consumers and traders before him.
Outstanding Police work, Deputy Conway! Thank you!
Nonviolent crime. Slap and release!
@Local Gun Nutz
Show some real gratitude to LEOs and prevent this:
Legal gun owners are supplying a dangerous black market in Florida
82,000 stolen guns are missing in Florida
By Laura Morel / November 1, 2017
I’m impressed lately by our Deputy’s heads up and hard work.Maybe he will do some real time and not getting out on a piss ass bail amount.
When I moved to Palm Coast some years ago I became friends with some of the law enforcement officers mentioned in this article. It’s been a privilege to know them and I’m proud to see how they’ve emerged as pillars of our community . Keep up the good work !
Why wasn’t a search warrant drawn for his residence?
Prehaps had it been and drugs uncovered there at then a civil forfieture proceeding could have been undertaken of the home there bye removing the domicile from under him and all who harbor and aid this piece of excrement.
Until you go after the white Ceo’s of the pharmaceutical companies, nothing will change.
LOL @ “fractional” in “Palm Coast Opioid Dealer’s Arrest Points Only To Fractional, Street-Level Source of Crisis”
And that fraction would be:
1/10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 (1 divided by a googol)
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that anyone in Palm Coast who still wants to get opioids will do so as easily as ever. Most just because they want it. Every once in a while you catch one, but from a bottom line perspective, you can’t really argue the government has in any way ever even won a battle in this war. They are constantly and forever on the losing side in this war. Which really makes the taxpayers lose twice. Let people who want to put that crap in their bodies do so. It’s less cost to all of us over all, including helping to fight climate change, by having less warm bodies. Sure, still fight crime, like real crimes, i.e., protect people from others infringing on their rights, as opposed to the government infringing on our rights, and wasting the taxpayers money.
Those junkies are probably all slow left lane drivers anyways.
joe schmo says
does Florida have a 3 strike rule? sound applicable here.even if this guy goes away for a long time, it wont matter to anyone but his family. take one out 3 more pop up in his place.the problem is way bigger than this street level peddler. good job by the sheriffs dept, at least they’re doing what they can. now we need the FDLE to crack down on the pill mills. have the big pharma start making non-addictive pain medication.
You got to love our sheriff! Keep it up FCSO
Another lowly addict near the bottom rung of the drug trade is arrested and people cheer as if real progress is being made. I will only start cheering once the authorities begin arresting the major players who are laughing it up in luxury while making real money off of this epidemic. There is no need to pretend that incarcerating a strung out bottom-feeder who sells 20 dollar baggies to help feed his own addiction is a step forward in this crisis rather than business as usual.
so happy he is where he belongs once again…
It may be so but a druggie, any druggie locked up is ok by me. One down many to go