In a bid to address safety concerns and preserve the natural habitat, Florida officials have taken action to dismantle structures on an island known as “meth island,” which is infested with squatters notorious for drug use and other illicit activities.
The island, located near the Dunlawton Bridge in Port Orange, has gained notoriety among social media users due to its association with illicit activities.
The handmade wooden structures, including an four-story treehouse and various huts constructed from reclaimed lumber and tree branches, have caught the attention of law enforcement agencies.
A recent video released by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office showcased the extent of the squatters’ encampment, complete with a trampoline and ongoing construction of a pool.
Authorities previously voiced concerns about the safety hazards posed by these makeshift dwellings, both for those residing on the island and local residents, particularly during hurricane season.
“There was a huge safety concern for us about whoever would be on that island with those types of structures out there,” Port Orange Police Detective Mike Wallace stated.
Moreover, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office revealed that nearby islands had been booby trapped by the squatters to discourage unwelcome visitors. The authorities have pledged to address these dangerous traps in the future.
Law enforcement officials have also discovered evidence of drug and alcohol use on the island, further adding to their concerns.
“There is evidence of drugs that have been done over there, alcohol that’s been done,” South Daytona Police Lieutenant Kevin Pedri said.
In response, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Port Orange Police Department, South Daytona Police Department and Florida Fish and Wildlife recently posted no trespassing signs at the squatter camp. The signs issued a clear directive, ordering squatters to vacate the island within 48 hours. The dismantling of the structures has already commenced, with the local public works department taking the lead.
A Port Orange Police spokesman, speaking on behalf of the department, confirmed that several agencies were actively monitoring the islands.
They also expressed their commitment to restoring the island to its natural state while safeguarding the surrounding mangrove population, which plays a vital role in protecting against storm surges.
Lieutenant Pedri told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that the wood used to build the structures is most likely scavenged or stolen from docks, and could threaten the island’s mangrove population and boaters during storm season.
“All that stuff is going to get thrown all over the intracoastal and damage other boats, or who knows how far some of the wood can launch and possibly damage other property as well,” Pedri said.
Pedri also worried that trampoline and treehouse could entice children to explore the area.
“All it does is [draw attention] for young kids to go over there. [They go] to these islands and start having fun, and then you start getting the alcohol in there, and they are jumping down on these trampolines — that’s when an accident is going to wind up happening,” Pedri continued.
While authorities have not yet returned to the island due to weather conditions, they plan to do so soon. Their primary goal is to address the safety risks posed by the squatter camp and ensure the preservation of the island’s natural ecosystem.