ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg police officers and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives arrested a Pinellas County tattoo artist on Thursday on drug and weapons charges.
Based on a tip authorities received a few weeks prior, SWAT officers served a search warrant at the home of 31-year-old Jason Deon Thomas. Other investigators served a search warrant at his tattoo business.
What officers found inside the house, located at 220 37th Street North in St. Petersburg, astounded them: thirty-one firearms including a machine gun, six assault rifles, five shotguns, seventeen handguns, a silencer, numerous rounds of ammunition, four bulletproof vests, bullet-resistant helmets and gas masks, survival knives, bug out bags and survival books.
"I think they were all shocked at the quantity of the firearms this man had and the ammunition," said St. Petersburg Police Spokesman Mike Puetz. "Not to mention the fact that he had the ballistic vest and he also was in possession of number of capacity magazines. These are magazines that are capable of holding up to a hundred rounds of assault rifle ammunition."
More ammunition was found inside J.T.'s The Perfect Tattoo Shop, the tattoo shop Jason Thomas owned at 3001 34th Street North.
Inside the house authorities also recovered MDMA (ecstasy), phenethylamine, LSD, marijuana and cocaine.
Officials say they are still searching for more evidence into Thomas activities.
"It's being investigated at this point exactly, number one, how did he obtain all this stuff because he is a convicted felon," said Puetz. "The second part of it is, was he distributing this to other folks, selling it, exactly what he was doing with the weapons. Clearly we want to identify the source of these weapons and how he obtained them."
Authorities are also worried about Thomas' mental state based on the items they found in his home.
"Maybe he is an individual that was included to have maybe a bunker mentality of some sort and saw this as a potential need for his own personal defense," said Puetz.
Thomas had previous arrests for drug trafficking in 2001 and drug possession in 2012.
He is now facing multiple federal charges including possession of a machine gun, possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and other firearms offenses.
If convicted, Thomas faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on the drug charges and 10 years in federal prison on each of the gun charges.