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Monday, February 22, 2021

Seat-changing Leesburg man jailed on drug charges in traffic stop

Tremayne Xavier Thomas

A Leesburg man who tried to go from the front passenger seat into the back seat of a vehicle during a traffic stop ended up being arrested on drug charges.

Tremayne Xavier Thomas, 24, of 208 Debora Ave., was charged with possession of a controlled substance (MDMA) and three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. Thomas has a handful of prior arrests since 2015, the most recent in May 2020 for possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted Florida felon.

In the latest incident, at around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, a Leesburg Police officer observed a blue Jeep SUV traveling south on Tuskegee Street approaching Waitman Avenue. The vehicle didn’t come to a complete stop at the intersection, and the officer turned around to conduct a traffic stop, according to the police report.

As the officer’s patrol vehicle was turning around, the Jeep quickly turned into a residential driveway on Waitman Avenue. At the same time, the officer noticed a lot of movement through the rear glass window and saw the occupants appearing to move around. The driver was also not wearing a seatbelt, according to the report.

The officer approached the passenger side window and saw a man moving around in the back seat and a man in the driver’s seat. The man in the back seat – later identified as Thomas — appeared to be trying to get seated but was laying across the seat. It’s possible he couldn’t get seated in back because both front seats were fully reclined. It appears Thomas was sitting in the front row with the driver and tried moving into the back seat when he saw the officer’s vehicle turn around, the report said.

While the officer was writing two warnings to the driver for the driving violations, a K-9 unit arrived and conducted a free-air sniff of the vehicle and gave a positive alert for narcotics. The officer searched the vehicle and found a yellow sandwich baggie box. Inside the box were empty baggies, a black digital scale and a clear plastic bag containing a tan rock-like substance, according to the report.

Next to the box was a black cell phone in a red/black case. Another digital scale was found inside the center console. There was a white bottle under the front passenger seat labeled, “stay awake.” Inside the bottle was a green powder that was sent to the FDLE for further testing. The rock-like substance field-tested positive for MDMA and weighed about 2.4 grams, the report said.

The officer read Thomas and the driver their Miranda warnings and interviewed them separately. The driver said he was unsure of anything inside the vehicle and did not want to say if Thomas changed seats, according to the report.

Thomas denied changing seats prior to the stop but couldn’t say why he was laying across the seat. He said the phone in the red case – which was located next to the box with narcotics – was his. He did not answer any further questions, the report said.

Thomas was taken to the Lake County Jail, where he was released Friday on $3,500 bond. He’ll appear in Lake County Court on March 8. The driver received two written warnings and was released.

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