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The Villages
Saturday, December 9, 2023

Lady Lake K-9 assists in drug arrest at local Walmart

A Lady Lake Police Department K-9 unit assisted in a drug arrest at a local Walmart.

K-9 Ember and her handler were summoned in the wee hours Wednesday morning after a Fruitland Park police officer followed a block Ford Escape on U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and initiated a traffic stop at Walmart in Leesburg.

K 9 Ember with interim Police Chief Steven Hunt, left, and K 9 Officer Joshua Higgins
K 9 Ember with Lady Lake Police Chief Steven Hunt, left, and K 9 Officer Joshua Higgins.
James Doyle Hatcher
James Doyle Hatcher

The officer found that the driver, 50-year-old James Doyle Hatcher of Summerfield, was wanted on a South Carolina warrant charging him with possession of cocaine. The Lady Lake K-9 unit was called in for assistance and the dog alerted on the vehicle, indicating the likely presence of drugs.

A search of the vehicle turned up “a plethora of used syringes,” according to the arrest report from the Fruitland Park Police Department. Methamphetamine and fentanyl were also found in the vehicle. Hatcher admitted he is a methamphetamine user and said he uses it intravenously, the report said.

Hatcher was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine, possession of fentanyl and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked at the Lake County Jail on $5,000 bond.

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