Out-of-town visitors busted, accused of making meth at upscale Marriott Sawgrass

St. Johns County police arrested a Panhandle man and Tennessee woman this week after a separate investigation led them to the couple allegedly making methamphetamines in a hotel room of an upscale resort. A security guard went to the room at the Sawgrass Marriott about 2 a.m. because the credit card the couple used to secure the room turned out to be stolen, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. When he went to the room, he saw what he thought were materials to cook meth in the room, the newspaper reported. The employee called police, who came to the scene and found a batch of the toxic drug being cooked inside the room. Both people were charged with producing and trafficking in methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

This case received plenty of media attention last week because meth is typically seen as a drug that’s made in hotel rooms and apartments in some of the more rundown neighborhoods, in the Jacksonville area and across the country. But to hear the story in Ponte Vedra Beach made it more surprising news.

Meth cases have been on the rise in Jacksonville and the surrounding area and that’s bad news for the people getting arrested in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. Florida laws are extremely strict in meth cases and there are significant penalties attached. Manufacturing methamphetamines is a second-degree felony in Jacksonville, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Trafficking in methamphetamine also has serious penalties depending on the amount police found. The maximum penalty is 30 years in prison and there are minimum mandatory terms based on the amount of methamphetamines police find.

But it is a first-degree felony starting at just 14 grams of meth for a St. Johns County Drug Crimes case. By comparison, people can have nearly double that amount of marijuana on them and not only is it not trafficking – it’s not even close. It’s a misdemeanor possession charge which does not even subject someone to time in prison. And making meth can be tough to hide, even in a ritzy resort. The odor from making meth is distinct and carries far enough where people nearby will generally know what is going on. In this St. Johns County Drug Crimes case, police had to evacuate four adjacent rooms and bring in the hazardous materials team to remove the chemicals from the room. Part of it is the public health issue and the other part is just the way laws have been written – meth crimes carry more severe penalties than most other street drugs.

Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes attorney knows all of the possible penalties in meth cases, and in other types of drug cases, and can lay out your options so you can decide the best way to proceed. If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in St. Johns County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.