A man is facing eight felony and misdemeanor charges after investigators said he was caught transporting stolen fuel in Nassau County.
Juan Carlos Chapelin Marcos was arrested on suspicion of organized retail fuel theft activities by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement.
Marcos is charged with one count of unlawful conveyance of fuel, a third-degree felony; one count of unlawful transportation of motor vehicle fuel over public highways, a first-degree misdemeanor; one count of failure to stop at an agricultural inspection station, a second-degree misdemeanor; one count of driving without a valid commercial driver license, a first-degree misdemeanor; one count of possession of cocaine, a third-degree felony; and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a first-degree misdemeanor.
According to Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson, OALE officers spotted a pickup truck pulling a white utility trailer bypass an agricultural inspection station near the Florida-Georgia border in Nassau County.
When the officers inspected the utility trailer, they found two 300-gallon plastic containers in the trailer, each half-full of a dark-colored liquid, which the driver admitted was diesel fuel.
Officers said the containers were not permanently fixed to the trailer and had no hazmat placards or any other type of identifying markings. Officers also found a dispensing pump and tubing connected to the bulk containers and threaded through a hole in the nose of the trailer connected to the undercarriage of the pickup truck it was hitched to.
The possession of multiple fuel tanks, pumps and tubing of this kind is consistent with fuel theft and transportation of stolen fuel, Simpson said.
“I am proud of the continued hard work of our Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement to keep our roadways and communities safe by bringing to justice criminals who are brazenly stealing from and defrauding Florida’s businesses,” Simpson said in a news release. “We will continue to work collaboratively with our law enforcement and fuel retail partners to combat organized retail fuel theft rings, which are hurting Florida’s businesses and consumers.”
To help combat rampant retail fuel theft across Florida, Simpson worked with the Florida Legislature this year to create criminal penalties for the possession, installation, use, or aiding in the use of contaminant devices — such as fuel dispenser pulsars — inserted into retail fuel dispensers from its standard operation or impeding standard functionality.
Florida law was also changed to create criminal penalties for possessing or using an auxiliary fuel tank to commit retail fuel theft. These new changes went into effect July 1.