PUNTA GORDA, FL – While on patrol at approximately 1:15am on Tuesday, May 25, a deputy observed a silver Toyota Corolla unable to maintain the lane. The deputy followed and monitored the vehicle, when it suddenly applied its brakes with no other vehicles or obstructions present. The Corolla then accelerated again, but was unable to maintain a steady lane. The deputy activated his emergency lights and pulled the vehicle over.
As the deputy approached, the passenger appeared to be frantically moving around in his seat. The driver, identified as George Nicholas Bankuti, 42, of Fort Myers, stated that he did not have a driver’s license in Florida but advised that he did in Pennsylvania. Bankuti appeared lethargic and slow to respond to the deputy’s questions. During the conversation, the passenger, James Wesley Haney, 41, of Fort Myers, was noticeably jittery and repeating himself.
The deputy ran a check on both of the vehicle’s occupants, discovering that Bankuti does not possess a valid driver’s license in any state and Haney had an active warrant out of Lee County.
A K9 unit with the Punta Gorda Police Department responded and conducted a free air sniff of the vehicle, which indicated the presence of narcotics. A search found a tan bag tucked between the passenger seat and door, which contained several baggies of what was identified as MDMA and crystallized methamphetamine. In the backseat, a case was discovered in a black messenger bag, which contained 9 baggies of fentanyl. Next to that bag was a keypad safe, which was opened to reveal another bag of fentanyl. The deputy discovered an additional bag of crystallized methamphetamine, a scale with narcotic residue, a straw, and over $1,000 in cash.
In total, members intercepted 49g of MDMA, 86.6g of methamphetamine, and 7.6g of fentanyl.
George N. Bankuti was charged with trafficking, possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, possession of amphetamine, and operating a motor vehicle without a valid license. James W. Haney was charged with trafficking, possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia and possession. Both subjects are being held at the Charlotte County Jail.