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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Texting driver jailed after heroin found under her seat

Christina Caridao Piedra
Christina Caridao Piedra

A Belleview woman was arrested on drug charges Tuesday night after being pulled over for texting while driving and having an altered temporary license tag.

Christina Caridao Piedra, 39, of 7730 SE 110th St. Road, was charged with possession of a controlled substance (heroin) without a prescription, possession of drug equipment, driving with a suspended license, and misuse of a temporary tag to avoid registering a vehicle.

At around 11 p.m., a Fruitland Park police officer saw a white Volkswagen with a temporary tag driving north on State Road 25 near Berckman Street. The officer did a random check of the tag that revealed it had expired March 23. The officer also observed the driver – later identified as Piedra – was typing on her cell phone, causing the vehicle to weave within its lane, according to the police report.

The officer conducted a traffic stop and spoke with Piedra, who apologized for texting. Asked for her driver’s license, Piedra provided a Florida ID card and said she didn’t have a license. A check of Piedra’s driving record showed 14 active license suspensions. Another officer noted that the temporary tag on the vehicle had an altered expiration date that made it appear to be valid, the report said.

Piedra told the officers she recently purchased the vehicle and was having trouble with the dealership, so she was unable to get the car registered. She said her cousin told her he could get her a new license plate. Piedra said her cousin must have altered it, but she was aware the plate was expired and still attached to the vehicle, according to the report.

While preparing to have the vehicle towed, an officer saw a fan on the front passenger seat that appeared to be recently purchased with an altered price tag.  After being removed from the car and read her Miranda warning, Piedra said she switched tags on the fans to pay less at the Walmart in Leesburg. The Leesburg Police department was notified so officers there could conduct an investigation, the report said.

Prior to searching the vehicle, the officer asked Piedra if there was any contraband in it. She initially replied there was not but then said there was a box underneath the driver’s seat that didn’t belong to her but might contain narcotics, according to the report.

The officer found a blue box under the seat that contained a clear glass smoking device with a white haze, three plastic baggies containing a brown powder, one clear baggie containing a dark brown wax-like substance, and miscellaneous paraphernalia items. The substances tested positive for heroin, the report said.

Piedra is being held in the Lake County Jail on $4,500 bond. She’ll appear in Lake County Court on June 13.

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