Fernandina Beach drug raid leads to seizure of 100+ pounds of marijuana worth $200K

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – A 52-year-old man in Nassau County was arrested after deputies conducted a storage shed search and found 106 pounds of marijuana, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

On April 4, multiple Nassau County agencies witnessed the delivery of marijuana, a report said.

Detectives said Jonathan Lee Balyeat met with someone near the Flash Foods gas station on South Fletcher Avenue in Fernandina Beach and drove home. When he arrived, investigators said, special agents saw Balyeat carry black duffel bags into a small shed in the back of the property where he drove.

Task Force officers walked up to Balyeat outside of the shed and called the owners of the house. The owner signed a Nassau County Sheriff’s Office search consent form.

“We made contact with one of the owners of the house and she said she didn’t know the individual, did not give him permission to put anything in the shed. She gave us permission to search. We found 106 pounds of marijuana,” explained Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper.

According to the report, inside the shed deputies found five duffel bags, one cardboard box, and two 5-gallon buckets containing marijuana packed inside vacuumed sealed bags. A digital scale and small packaged bags ready for sale were also found.

Federal agents determined the marijuana came from California.

Leeper said investigators found evidence to suggest wholesale amounts of marijuana were being prepared for street distribution. He said when they spoke with the other owner of the house, he said that he gave Balyeat permission to store personal items in the shed but nothing illegal.

Sheriff Leeper says this amount of marijuana coming into Nassau County from California is concerning.

“This marijuana coming in is a higher potency than what you can purchase as medical marijuana. That’s why people are buying this stuff. People think marijuana is a low-level non-violent crime. Well we also see other people with guns get in shootouts and drive-by shootings,” Leeper said.

Law enforcement says they don’t believe Balyeat was working alone, which is why there may be more arrests down the line.

Federal agents say wholesale amounts of marijuana smuggled into Florida from California typically cost $1,000 per pound. But in this case, investigators said the suspect was selling it for nearly $2,000 per pound.

So, the value of what was seized jumped from $106,000 to more than 200,000.

Balyeat was arrested and charged with one count of trafficking 25 pounds or more of marijuana, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of possession with intent to sell.

Jonathan Lee Balyeat, 52

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