Fla. police discover fentanyl, other drugs in repeat offender's underwear during traffic stop

This most recent offense marks the fourth time in 2022 that Stephen Joel Horton was arrested — and ninth time since 2017


By Madeleine Marr
Miami Herald

PALM COAST, Fla. — A Florida man who has had numerous brushes with the law this year was arrested yet again Thursday night.

This most recent offense marks the fourth time in 2022 that Stephen Joel Horton was arrested — and ninth time since 2017, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

An FCSO Facebook post about the newest incident says that a deputy on patrol around 8 p.m. in Palm Coast pulled over the 42-year-old on State Road 100 after he was tracked driving his Nissan 55 mph through a 35 mph construction zone.

The driver also changed lanes directly in front of the unmarked patrol vehicle, forcing the deputy to brake to avoid a crash, the agency says.

During the traffic stop, the deputy noticed the Nissan “rocking back and forth as if someone was moving around rapidly inside the vehicle.” Upon further investigation, the officer spotted a large blade sheath tucked between the driver’s seat and center console.

Horton, who appeared “nervous,” was asked to step out of the car. As the driver’s door opened, the deputy noticed “a piece of burnt tin foil consistent with drug use” in the map pocket as well as a large butcher knife on the floorboard.

Horton claimed the weapon was used for “cutting sod,” the FB post says.

During a search of the defendant, the deputy “felt a solid object near Horton’s groin area.”

A little metal tin with three clear small plastic bags was revealed to be inside his underwear. One of them contained less than a gram of methamphetamine; another had residue traces of fentanyl.

A search of the vehicle turned up drug paraphernalia, including a red straw with burnt ends and a green tube containing white powder residue.

Bodycam footage shows the interaction between the officer and suspect, who are apparently familiar with one another.

“You again?” the deputy asks Horton.

Horton was arrested and booked at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility in Flagler County on a total of six charges, including felonies of evidence tampering, possession of fentanyl, possession of methamphetamine and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

The Flagler Beach resident is being held on $11,000 bond. His arrest is the latest from FCSO’s so-called PACE Unit, a team dedicated to deterring criminal behavior.

From January through September, the PACE Unit has made 147 arrests, seizing $14,208 in cash, 1,190 grams of cannabis, 87.8 grams of fentanyl, 23.5 grams of methamphetamine and 16.8 grams of cocaine.

“This kind of effort is why I’m proud of our PACE team,” said Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly. “We’re not just waiting around for people to commit crimes. They are a dedicated, proactive team that has a successful track record by focusing on crime trends... In this case, I hope this addict will decide to change his lifestyle before he dies of an overdose.”

©2022 Miami Herald.
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