KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A daring attempt to evade law enforcement turned into a high-speed chase that concluded with a devastating crash and the discovery of a significant amount of deadly fentanyl, announced the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) on Friday.
Last Thursday, troopers from FHP’s Criminal Intervention Unit were on patrol in Osceola County when they observed a white Mercedes SUV recklessly changing lanes and cutting off a marked FHP cruiser on Old Canoe Creek Road and Kissimmee Park Road. Noticing illegal tinted windows and a temporary tag that couldn’t be traced to any vehicle, the troopers decided to initiate a traffic stop.
However, as the troopers tried to pull over the SUV, the driver chose to flee instead, reaching speeds exceeding 100 miles-per-hour at times. During the chase, the suspect side-swiped another driver and drove against oncoming traffic multiple times, with marked patrol units in pursuit.
The pursuit reached its dramatic conclusion when the driver lost control of the SUV while navigating a curve, resulting in a crash. The driver, later identified as 22-year-old Jonathan Nicola, was immediately apprehended and taken into custody for felony fleeing and eluding, along with numerous serious traffic offenses.
During a search of the SUV for any additional occupants, troopers discovered evidence of drug trafficking, including a digital scale and several small baggies in the driver’s side door pocket. A subsequent search with a K-9 unit led to the discovery of a loaded 9mm handgun, additional drug paraphernalia, and a box containing 15,000 Fentanyl pills disguised as OxyContin, meticulously packaged and ready for distribution.
Further investigation revealed that the Mercedes SUV was reported stolen from Lee County, with fake temporary tags and cloned VINs.
As a habitual traffic offender, Nicola now faces multiple felony charges, including trafficking in more than four grams of fentanyl, manufacturing or selling a synthetic narcotic, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and aggravated fleeing and eluding law enforcement. In addition, he received a citation for reckless driving.
Nicola is currently being held without bond at the Orange County Jail, while the FHP continues its investigation into this dangerous incident.
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