According to a January 12, 2024 press release from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 22-year-old Jonathan Nicola was arrested in possession of 15,000 fentanyl pills after leading officers on a high-speed traffic chase in a stolen vehicle.
The report states that troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) witnessed Nicola in a white Mercedes SUV unlawfully change lanes while cutting off a marked State Patrol unit and appearing to have illegal tint. A running of the attached temporary tag did not return to any vehicle.
As troopers attempted to conduct a traffic stop, the subject fled the area, reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour, side-swiping another motorist, and driving the wrong way on a public road multiple times while being followed by marked units. Officers were able to take Nicola into custody after he failed to take a curve and crashed.
As troopers cleared the vehicle to ensure no other passengers were present, a digital scale and numerous small baggies were observed within the driver's door pocket. Further inspection by an FHP trooper and K-9 led to the discovery of a large box containing a clear vacuum-sealed bag filled with 15,000 fentanyl pills made to look like OxyContin, a loaded 9 millimeter handgun, and drug paraphernalia.
After verifying the vehicle information, it was confirmed to be a stolen vehicle out of Lee County, Florida, with a fake temporary tag and cloned VINS on both the door and the window. Officers arrested Jonathan Nicola, transporting him to the Orange County Jail without bond on the following charges:
“Despite the unabated flow of Fentanyl flowing into our nation through the open southern border, State Troopers wake up every day willingly putting themselves in high-risk situations like this, so that they can put evil people behind bars," said Executive Director Dave Kerner. "Despite the advantages the drug cartels reap from the open border, the Florida Highway Patrol will never back down from the mission Governor DeSantis has assigned us; keep our communities safe and fight back against the cartel driven devastation.”
As of publication, the investigation remains active an ongoing; additional information is not available at this time.