Hitchhiker Turns Confidential Informant
Levy County Deputies say they picked up two drug traffickers with the help of someone else they picked up -- in a different sense.
27-year-old Nicholas Payne of Largo and 25-year-old John Lopez of Bowling Green, Ohio were both arrested monday for drug trafficking. Deputies say they purchased 60 Roxycodone tablets from the men for $1200 using the help of a confidential informant.
The informant, however, has a "unique" relationship with deputies, according to officials. Dep. Burt Miller says the informant was hitchhiking about a month ago when Miller stopped and picked him up. Dep. Miller says he gave the hitchhiker a ride to the county line and also gave him a few dollars for a cup of coffee. The hitchhiker eventually returned the favor with a tip that led to the arrests of Payne and Lopez.
"He had witnessed illegal drugs destroy people's lives and some of his family member's lives," says Dep. Miller referring to the hitchhiker.
Levy County Major Evan Sullivan says he has no problem with how Dep. Miller handled the case.
"He was working an off-duty detail," says Major Sullivan. "Even though he's in the narcotics unit, he was in a marked car. Gave the homeless guy a ride in a caged vehicle so officer safety was not an issue."
Dep. Miller says both Payne and Lopez face mandatory minimum sentences of three years for drug trafficking.
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