JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police have identified the man arrested Wednesday while serving a search warrant at a Westside auto shop as Michael Jennings, 36.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Jennings was charged with possession of a half-pound of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of cocaine, an opium product, steroids with intent to sell, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Jennings, a Forest High School and Florida State University graduate, who went on to play three seasons in the NFL, was arrested at Jack's Auto Services on Cassat Avenue at San Juan Avenue. Jennings played for the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. According to records, he grew up in Jacksonville and moved back after an Achilles injury ended his football career.
"Several years when your career is over, if they don't have any other career opportunities, that money goes pretty quickly," said News4Jax Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith. "Then sometimes they look for ways to make money. Sometimes it's illegal ways."
Undercover officers raided the car wash and detailing business and found a half pound of marijuana, around 20 grams of powder cocaine, assorted opioid pills, crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia and a .38 caliber handgun with ammunition inside a makeshift office. They also found $5,400 cash in Jennings' front pocket.
In addition to the marijuana found in the trunk of a car, police found 20 grams of cocaine, prescription pills, a handgun and ammunition, and $5,400 in cash.
According to the arrest report, Jennings admitted he knew there was marijuana in the truck, but said he didn't know who it belonged to.
Police said the raid came after undercover officers had purchased marijuana from Jennings at the business on Jan. 29 and Feb. 6. Both transactions were recorded on audio and video and submitted for evidence to obtain the search warrant that was served Wednesday.
"In cases like this, usually someone informs the police," Smith said. "It could be a customer at the body shop, an employee or maybe someone involved in the drug deal. Someone that knows about it informs police, they come in, do a couple of buys, figure out the situation it is. If there's danger, that way they can figure out what type of manpower they need. (They) come back, make another arrest at that point."
The first buy was Jan. 29, when a detective bought $40 worth of high-grade marijuana. The second was Feb. 6, when $80 worth of marijuana was bought.
Police said Wednesday the man arrested was the owner of the business. News4Jax is checking records to verify that information.
Multiple people were in handcuffs Wednesday afternoon, but police only said Jennings was arrested.
"What the police may do next is make a deal with Jennings," Smith said. "Maybe if Jennings can provide information as to who else was involved in this, people who are higher up, that are supplying a lot more to other people, that would make a stronger case against the whole organization."
People who live in the area said the business has been at the location for about a year. A business owner in the area said the auto shop didn’t seem to be doing much business, but the owner was still paying rent, which isn’t cheap.
"It appeared they were doing well," said an employee of the lawn mowing business next door. "It’s just sad to see they aren’t doing as well as we thought they were. I’m hoping that things get worked out, and someone will get back into that building, if not them."
After Wednesday's raid, the business was closed due to code violations. The owner has 30 days to respond to the complaints.
News4Jax stopped by the address listed for Jennings, but the house has been foreclosed and no one else was there.