Crime

Man passed out at Sonic in Gulfport had more than 1,000 pain pills in his car, cops say

Robert Ashton Kerns
Robert Ashton Kerns

A man and woman passed out in a car at a Sonic Drive-In restaurant, but police say it wasn't because of the food.

The car was running and police couldn't wake them up — at first.

Police turned the car off at the restaurant on Creosote Road, and a Gulfport Police DUI officer found items that have led to a federal drug trafficking case.

The DUI officer found a silver smoking pipe — the type used to smoke drugs — in plain view, and a bottle with 47 oxycodone pills on the passenger seat, a DEA Task Force agent wrote in a criminal complaint. Oxycodone is the generic equivalent of Oxycontin.

Robert Ashton Kerns, 24, owns the Hyundai Sonata and was in the passenger seat, the agent said.

Officers searched the car and reported finding a total of 302 oxycodone pills, 1,515 alprazolam pills and a Glock 17 9mm pistol on the floorboard where Kerns was sitting. Alprazolam is the generic form of Xanax.

In an interview, the 22-year-old Kerns said he knew the pills were in his car and he planned to give them to someone else, the complaint said.

Police arrested Kerns on charges of trafficking oxycodone and possession with intent to distribute alprazolam.

A DEA Task Force agent filed a complaint on related charges in U.S. District Court in Gulfport.

Magistrate Judge John Gargiulo set a $25,000 bond Thursday and ordered that Kerns must stay in custody until a bed becomes available at a treatment facility.

After Kerns completes drug treatment, he can be released to a person who made arrangements with the court to assume responsibility for him, the judge wrote.

The affidavit did not identify the woman and does not say if she was also arrested.

Someone who was at Sonic called the police, the document said.

It's been just a few weeks since a Sonic in downtown Gulfport posted a sign warning customers they won't be served if they're smoking weed in the drive-thru. The store manager said a customer had blown smoke in the face of a teenage worker. The sign has been removed.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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