Troopers: Nassau County traffic stop leads to seizure of guns & trafficking amount of narcotics

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man and woman were arrested Thursday on charges stemming from a traffic stop in Nassau County, where the Florida Highway Patrol said troopers confiscated guns and drugs.

Troopers said they discovered fentanyl, molly, marijuana and six guns. They arrested Lonnie Austin, 42, and Linda Banks, 50. According to FHP, approximately 4.3 grams of fentanyl was confiscated, which may not seem like much, but could potentially be lethal to roughly 2,000 people.

According to the arrest report, a trooper who first spotted them sitting in a car in the parking lot of a closed business early Thursday morning suspected something wasn’t right. The trooper said when he entered the parking lot to get closer to their vehicle, it appeared Austin was trying to avoid him and drove off.

The trooper said he was not able to follow the vehicle due to the traffic pattern, so the trooper called another nearby trooper to have the vehicle pulled over because Austin was not wearing a seatbelt. The vehicle was pulled over on U.S. 17.

The trooper that pulled Austin over said he smelled marijuana emanating from the car and saw a gun in the car along with drug paraphernalia, which gave the trooper probable cause to search the car. During the search, FHP said, the trooper located multiple firearms and a trafficking amount of narcotics.

According to an arrest report, right before Austin entered the jail, he admitted to a Nassau County deputy that he still had drugs on him. The report states that Austin removed a vial of oxycodone pills that were hidden inside his body and then attempted to bribe the deputy by offering him $5,000 to destroy the pills and pretend it never happened.

Investigators say the removal of the oxycodone pills and the attempted bribery were both recorded on the deputy’s body camera.

Lonnie Austin, Linda Banks. Photos: Department of Corrections.

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