Jacksonville police find meth lab beneath Main Street Bridge

Two Jacksonville men were arrested last week after police allege they were manufacturing methamphetamine underneath the Main Street Bridge in downtown Jacksonville. Police found the men sitting on the ground with plastic bottles containing chemicals, other loose chemicals, pipes, syringes, scales and other drug paraphernalia, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Both men, James Jackson and Ernest Tutton face four felony charges and are being held in the Duval County jail. They are charged with:

– Manufacturing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a specified area, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
– Possession of methamphetamine with the intent to sell, manufacture or deliver within 1,000 feet of a specified area, also a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
– Unlawful possession of a listed chemical, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
– Possession of paraphernalia for the manufacture or delivery of drugs, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
As Jackson and Tutton are finding out in this case, and old adage commonly applied to real estate is also a major factor in Jacksonville Drug Crimes cases: Location, Location, Location. Jackson and Tutton were found within 1,000 feet of a park. Not even a park where children routinely congregate – there are no swing sets or jungle gyms at Treaty Oak Park. Just the city’s most famous tree. But it’s still enough for the state to file enhances charges against the two men.

The charges can be upgraded from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony if the drugs are manufactured or sold within 1,000 feet of a:
– School – Child care facility – Community center – Park – Publicly owned recreational facility
Not only does the enhanced charge bring an additional up to 15 years in prison – 30 for each man in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes case because of the manufacturing and intent to sell charges – it also brings a minimum mandatory sentence into play. Each charge carries a minimum of three years in prison, should the state choose to file it. The location enhancement, especially in a Jacksonville Drug Crimes case such as this, seems a little excessive. The park is insignificant to the charge. The school and active park enhancements are one thing, the argument that people selling drugs near a school or Little League baseball games is a compelling one. But in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes case, it appears to be piling on. And while it’s unlikely either man will be sentenced to the maximum of 80 years in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes case, the state clearly has the upper hand if and when negotiations begin.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Duval County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.