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Posted on: August 23, 2019

Judge sends drug dealer back to prison for the fourth time

This is Marcus Thurston

KEY WEST, August 23, 2019 – A Key West man with a long criminal history is making his fourth trip to prison following his plea to several drug-related charges.

Marcus Thurston, 34, pleaded no contest August 19 to sale of cocaine, possession of heroin with intent to sell, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of a controlled substance. He also pleaded to fleeing or attempting to elude police. Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones handed down a 40-month Florida State Prison sentence followed by 36 months of drug-offender probation. Assistant State Attorney Christine M. Poist represented the state.

On July 6, 2017, the Key West Police Department, utilizing a confidential informant, set up a controlled narcotics buy with Thurston using a cellular phone.  Thurston directed the informant to meet him at the bathroom at the Winn-Dixie on North Roosevelt Boulevard and once there, sold the informant $100 worth of crack cocaine.  Video surveillance from Winn-Dixie caught both Thurston and the informant entering the store, meeting in the area by the bathrooms and leaving the store after the transaction was complete.  A warrant was subsequently obtained for Thurston’s arrest. 

On October 6, 2017, an officer who was aware of the warrant for Thurston’s arrest saw Thurston driving and attempted to pull him over.  The officer was in an unmarked patrol car equipped with lights and sirens.  At 15th Street and Flagler Avenue, he turned on the emergency lights and sirens in an effort to pull Thurston over, but Thurston kept going and “fled at a high rate of speed running stop signs” after turning onto Duck Avenue.

After a short pursuit through several neighborhoods that came to involve other officers, police found the car unoccupied on Patterson Avenue.  A man in the area flagged down police and told him Thurston had just taken off on foot. Thurston was ultimately found in an alley off Seidenberg Avenue.

While out on bond on those two cases, Thurston, just after midnight on September 1, 2018, was pulled over in the same vehicle for a tag-light violation.  While speaking with Thurston, police smelled an odor of marijuana and called for a K-9 officer to respond.  The K-9 alerted to the presence of narcotics inside the vehicle. 

A search of Thurston revealed 14 small Ziploc-type plastic bags with marijuana in them “consistent with street-level narcotics sales,” seven small plastic bags containing heroin and two plastic bags containing MDMA (often known as Ecstasy or Molly). Thurston was taken into custody.

Thurston has previously served three stints in Florida State Prison for sale of marijuana, sale of cocaine, sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and possession of cocaine. He most recently was released in November 2016.

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