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South Florida resident arrested on drug smuggling charges

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - On Sept. 16, Timothy Dawson, 44, of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., was arrested on federal drug smuggling charges following a multi-agency investigation into alleged drug-smuggling on the waterways of Martin County, Fla. The investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to the criminal complaint, on Sept. 4, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft based out of Jacksonville, Fla., tracked a vessel entering St. Lucie Inlet. When the vessel was approximately five miles from the St. Lucie Inlet, the motors were shut down for a few minutes. CBP alerted the Martin County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) to this suspicious behavior.

Thereafter, MCSO marine unit deputies located the vessel, a 1984 Wellcraft center console boat, approximately two miles off the coastline of Martin County. As deputies were attempting to board the vessel, the operator of the vessel, Timothy Dawson, threw two weighted dive bags overboard into the ocean. Timothy Dawson was arrested on state charges of tampering with evidence and resisting arrest without violence. He was released after posting bond. The vessel was taken as evidence.

On Sept. 5, MCSO dive team members returned to the ocean location and retrieved the two dive bags. The bags were determined to contain more than 30 pounds of cocaine and more than 39 pounds of marijuana.

On Sept. 16, ICE HSI special agents executed a federal search and arrest warrant on Timothy Dawson, who was charged federally with possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. He is being held without bond at the St. Lucie County Jail.