BAKER COUNTY, Fla. - The parents of missing 21-month-old Lonzie Barton were arrested Wednesday night in Baker County on drug charges.
Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson said investigators have been surveilling Lonna Lauramore Barton and Chris Barton for nearly a month after receiving intelligence.
Chris Barton is charged with sale of opiate or derivative within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, sale of synthetic narcotics within 1,000 feet of a specified area and possession of synthetic narcotics with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of specified area.
Undercover investigators purchased opiates Tuesday night off of Chris Barton within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, Dobson said. On Wednesday, Chris Barton sold synthetic narcotics to the investigators within 1,000 feet of a specific area, Dobson said. Chris Barton was arrested on Interstate 10.
Lonna Lauramore Barton is charged with sale of synthetic narcotics within 1,000 feet of specified area, possession and use of drug paraphernalia and possession of synthetic narcotics with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a specified area.
Undercover investigators purchased Molly from Lonna Lauramore Barton twice on Wednesday, Dobson said. She was arrested in a room at the Motel 6 on State Road 121 in Macclenny.
A third person, Shawn Clayton Hall, was also arrested and charged with sale of synthetic narcotics within 1,000 feet of a specified area and possession of synthetic narcotics with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a specified area.
"They had been together in the hotel room," Dobson said. "Mr. Barton had left the hotel room with Mr. Hall. She (Lonna Lauramore Barton) was in the room ... by herself."
Dobson said they were cooperative and didn't have anything much to say.
"Ms. Barton was a little bit surprised when we went in the door; didn't have a lot to say other than she didn't know why we were there," Dobson said.
Dobson stressed that this drug investigation is seperate from the investigation into Lonzie Barton's disappearance.
"This is not about the Lonzie case tonight. This doesn't have anything to do with that, we're not involved in that. That's JSO's (the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office) case. We assisted in giving them any information, any intelligence information we had, we assist them with that. But this doesn't really have anything to do with that case," Dobson said.
The arrest comes hours after the Bartons appeared in court in Duval County on a custody hearing for Lonzie's 5-year-old sister. The judge ordered the two to undergo drug tests and mental examinations.
The Bartons were booked into the Baker County Detention Center and will appear on the drug charges before a county judge around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Ruben Ebron, the man who police are calling the prime suspect in the disappearance of Lonzie Barton, will appear in court Thursday morning in Duval County.