Deputies: Jacksonville firefighter in possession of meth

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. - A Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department captain was arrested Wednesday in Nassau County after a deputy who conducted a traffic stop on him found crystal methamphetamine and a glass pipe in his truck, according to the Nassau County Sheriff's Office.

Joseph Earl Acosta is charged with possession of crystal meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to a police report, a deputy conducted a traffic stopped on Acosta at about 4:40 a.m. for having an unsecured load.

The deputy noticed beer cans in the back seat of the truck and asked Acosta if there was an open container in the vehicle, and Acosta said yes, according to the report.

Acosta gave the deputy consent to search the truck, and the deputy found 0.4 grams of a crystal substance and a glass pipe in a backpack on the floorboard of the front passenger side. Both the substance and the pipe tested positive for amphetamine.

Acosta was arrested and booked into the Nassau County Detention Facility. He was also issued a traffic citation for having an unsecured load.

Acosta, an 18-year veteran of the Fire Department, heads up a rescue unit at Station 49 on the Northside. He's still employed with JFRD but is not on the street.

"We immediately placed him on administrative duty until the outcome of the criminal investigation is completed," JFRD Division Chief Ivan Mote said. "And after that we start our internal investigation. But he is removed from the field."

This arrest comes at a time when the department was recently criticized in an audit for the way staff tracks drugs used during rescue events.

"The timing is horrible, of course, but the security of the drugs is still the same," Mote said. "We require two people. We have safety nets in place to prevent this from taking place to have narcotics going missing."

Acosta bonded out of jail Thursday morning. He has not responded for comment.

"They are human beings and they will have the same problems that the general public suffers," Mote added. "But we do have measures in place. They do have rights as employees as well. So we have to let the process take place before we step in. Because the final judgement is final. It's anywhere from suspension to termination."

The Fire Department does random drug testing, and if an employee tests positive, it calls for termination.

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