Marine Unit arrests man on meth charges in Charlotte County

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CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FL-A Monroe County man was arrested Wednesday on charges including possession of methamphetamine during a vessel safety check by Marine Patrol deputies.

Marine Patrol deputies stopped about 11:00 am to check a boat that was in the area of the US 41 bridges in the Peace River to make sure it had the required safety equipment on board.  Deputies spoke with Frederick Justin Cunningham, 38, of 31875 Overseas Hwy. in Big Pine Key, and found his vessel documentation had expired, as had the flares he had on board.

Since Cunningham had several saltwater fishing poles and large coolers on board, the deputies asked if he had been fishing.  When they checked his coolers, they found two Cobia under several bags of ice.  One of the Cobia was of legal size, but the other was below the legal limit to keep.  When they checked, the deputies learned that Cunningham was on probation.  He was placed under arrest for the undersized fish and violation of his probation.

When the deputies checked the boat prior to taking it back to dock, they found a container with a zip-locked baggie inside that contained residue and a smoking pipe that also had residue.  Both items tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine.

Cunningham was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Paraphernalia, Violation of Probation and Failure to Release an Undersized Food Fish (Cobia).  He was still in the process of being booked into the Charlotte County Jail at the time of this report.  He was given a citation for the expired vessel documentation and a warning for the expired flares.

The vessel was returned to a local dock and turned over to Cunningham’s wife at his request.