"There is never a 'good' place to do a drug deal. Doing it next to a cop, however, is maybe the worst place you could pick."
That’s what Highlands County Sheriff’s Office detectives say happened on Friday, in Avon Park.
A Special Operations Unit detective was sitting in his unmarked car outside Avon Pharmacy at 1577 U.S. 27 North around 5:30 p.m. when 31-year-old Eric Velez pulled up in a black Cadillac and parked next to the detective.
The detective recognized Velez due to his previous drug arrests and because they had recently received tips that Velez had been selling drugs out of that car.
Shortly after, a red Chrysler sedan pulled up next to the Cadillac. Alexander Scott Handley, 28, got out of that car and into the Cadillac.
The detective saw Handley give Velez money, get back into his car and drive away. The detective then saw Velez doing drugs inside the Cadillac, using a piece of tin foil and a lighter to inhale the vapor from a dissolved pill.
The detective, who was in plain clothes but had his badge and gun plainly visible, approached Velez’s car, identified himself as law enforcement and ordered him out the car. Velez looked at the detective and then tried to hide the evidence of his drug use.
When the detective grabbed the door handle, Velez sped away. The detective still had his hand inside the door handle, which was ripped from the car as Velez sped away.
The detective was checked out by EMS for a sore shoulder after the incident.
A Special Operations Unit stopped Velez shortly after the incident.
Velez had thrown the straw and tin foil out the window. They were later found on the ground and tested positive for heroin.
Velez, who was on felony probation, was charged with fleeing/eluding a law enforcement officer, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of probation.
Meanwhile, another SOU unit caught up to Handley and saw that in addition to him not wearing a seat belt, the Chrysler had an expired tag. He was pulled over, but before he stopped, the detective saw him hiding something in the center console. A search of the console found two syringes, one of which tested positive for morphine. Handley was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.