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Friday, December 2, 2022

Deputy arrests Belleview man after finding drugs, loaded handgun during vehicle search

An 18-year-old Belleview man was arrested after a deputy found cocaine, marijuana, and a loaded handgun during a vehicle search.

On Sunday at around 10 p.m., a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy observed a silver Audi sedan traveling southbound around the 16500 block of SE 25th Avenue in Summerfield.

A computer check revealed that the sedan’s tag had expired earlier in the month.

After conducting a traffic stop at the 2400 block of SE 170th Lane, the deputy spoke with the male driver and a passenger who was later identified as Michael Van Knowles, Jr.

Deputy arrests Belleview man after finding drugs loaded gun during vehicle search 1
Michael Van Knowles, Jr.

According to the MCSO report, the deputy saw a green leafy residue on the center compartment and smelled marijuana inside the vehicle. The driver handed a medical marijuana card to the deputy, but the card had expired back in August of 2021.

The deputy noticed a gray backpack in the back seat and Knowles stated that it belonged to him.

When the deputy asked for the driver and Knowles to step out of the vehicle for a search, the backpack was left on the back seat.

During the vehicle search, the deputy located a small plastic baggie filled with a white powdery substance inside the driver’s door pocket. A small digital scale was inside the center console, and green leafy residue was on the floorboard and inside a glass jar on the rear passenger floorboard.

The deputy spotted a lock mechanism on the backpack and was able to correctly guess the pin number. Inside the backpack, the deputy found a larger clear plastic bag filled with nine smaller baggies, and each contained a white rock-like substance.

Five plastic bags filled with a green leafy substance were found in the backpack along with a semi-automatic handgun. The firearm was equipped with a full magazine and one round was in the chamber.

The backpack also contained $1,800 in cash.

A search of the trunk revealed another backpack full of drug paraphernalia.

The white substance field-tested positive for the presence of cocaine and the green leafy substance field-tested positive for marijuana.

In total, the bags of cocaine weighed nearly 13 grams and the bags of marijuana weighed around 26 grams.

The driver told the deputy that he had picked up Knowles, and he confirmed that Knowles was the owner of the gray backpack.

Knowles admitted that both backpacks were his and he was aware of the drugs inside, though he claimed to be unaware of the loaded handgun.

He stated that the drugs were just for his own personal use. He also admitted that the bag of cocaine belonged to him and must have fallen into the driver’s door pocket.

Knowles was arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and he was later released on $12,500 bond. He is facing felony charges for drug possession with intent to sell and possession of a weapon during a felony.

A court date has been scheduled at 9 a.m. on January 25, 2022, according to jail records.