In a high-speed chase that unfolded through Kissimmee, Florida Highway Patrol troopers arrested 22-year-old Jonathan Nicola of Kissimmee after discovering 15,000 fentanyl pills in the stolen Mercedes he was driving, officials reported.
The chase began on Thursday when a trooper observed Nicola unlawfully changing lanes and cutting off a marked FHP vehicle. The Mercedes, bearing a fraudulent temporary tag, quickly became the focus of a traffic stop. However, Nicola escalated the situation, reaching speeds exceeding 100 mph, side-swiping another vehicle, and repeatedly driving in the wrong direction, officials said.
The pursuit ended abruptly when Nicola crashed the car. Upon his arrest, troopers conducted a thorough search of the vehicle, uncovering a digital scale and several small baggies in the driver's door pocket. The search also revealed a loaded 9mm handgun, drug paraphernalia, and notably, a box containing a clear vacuum-sealed bag with 15,000 fentanyl pills, deceptively designed to resemble Oxycontin.
Further investigation revealed that the car, reported stolen from Lee County, had a fake temporary tag and cloned Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) on both the door and window.
Nicola faces a slew of charges, including trafficking in fentanyl, manufacturing synthetic narcotics, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, and grand theft of a motor vehicle. Additional charges include possession of drug equipment used in manufacturing/transporting drugs, possession of a vehicle with altered numbers, use/display of a firearm during a felony, aggravated fleeing with injury or damage, and reckless driving with damage to person/property.
Did a trooper pull over the wrong Dodge Charger? You be the judge here.
Held without bond at the Orange County Jail, Nicola has been identified by troopers as a "habitual traffic offender." This arrest underscores a significant intervention by the Florida Highway Patrol, potentially thwarting a substantial distribution of dangerous narcotics.