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Two men pleaded guilty Thursday to importing more than 24 pounds of the main ingredient in the street drug flakka from China to Broward County.

Federal authorities arrested a 25-year-old Orlando man and a 21-year-old Clermont man in June after they allegedly attempted to pick up packages from a shipping and mailbox store in Hollywood.

Homeland Security Investigations agents claim the packages contained the key ingredient for making the synthetic stimulant, which often causes hallucinations and psychosis.

The packages were apparently addressed to fake names and were intercepted while being shipped to commercial mailboxes in Weston and Hollywood, according to authorities.

The men apparently ordered large amounts of the drug to be shipped from labs in China and the conspiracy occurred from January to early June, according to the plea agreement.

According to reports, the men paid cash for mailbox services and used fake identities when they picked up the shipments.

At a federal court hearing in West Palm Beach, both men pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to import the drug ingredient.

The charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

The drug has been linked to several deaths in South Florida as well as many incidents of bizarre behavior.

Federal law makes it a crime to traffic drugs. Drug trafficking charges involves bringing an illegal substance from another place within the United States to another. Special consequences apply to the importation of drugs-bringing drugs from outside the United States into the country.

The penalties for violating federal drug importation laws depends on several factors- the drug involved, the quantities seized, whether use of the drug caused serious bodily injury or death and whether the person convicted has any previous drug-related convictions. Regardless of the circumstances, all the penalties are quite severe. A first conviction for a just a small quantity of a controlled substance, where no injury or death results, carries a minimum of 10 years in prison and a hefty fine.

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A registered sex offender in Gainesville has been charged with possession of child pornography after police allege he had many illegal images on his cellphone. According to an arrest report, an investigation is also underway into whether he had sex with a child.

The 23-year-old man was charged with possessing photographs of sexual performances by children, a Gainesville Police Department report states.

The photographs allegedly show a child who appears to be prepubescent having sex with a man. Other alleged photos of a sexual nature involving children were also found.

The arrest report claims that the man admitted to downloading and viewing the other images of a sexual nature.

Police were apparently alerted to the man through calls to authorities regarding his downloading images and having urges for sex with a boy, according to a dispatch log.

During a police interview, the man allegedly confessed that he had sex with an unidentified 9-year-old, the report states. That case is currently under investigation.

Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show the man was convicted in 2010 of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim under the age of 16 and lewd and lascivious molestation on a victim under the age of 12. The cases were in Levy County.

Either state or federal authorities can prosecute child pornography cases, however, in recent years, the majority of cases involving child porn have been brought in federal courts. Federal sentencing guidelines are much more severe than similar prosecutions in state courts. The prosecution of federal child pornography and other types of sex crime cases has significantly increased in the past decade, with 86 cases in 1995 to 1,769 cases in 2013.

Prosecutors in federal child pornography cases are quite aggressive, seeking years in prison for even the mere possession of illegal pictures. State cases tend to end in probation or shorter jail terms, but federal child porn offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences. In order to avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction, it is essential to not speak to police or prosecutors about your case without first seeking the advice of a criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling child pornography cases. Even if you are under investigation for child porn charges, you are still presumed innocent until proven guilty, but your case must be handled very carefully in order to achieve a favorable outcome.

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Clay County investigators arrested a 32-year-old Jacksonville man Friday that they claim made fake online profiles posing as a boy to lure preteen girls into having sex.

The man is charged with using a computer to solicit a child for sex, transmission of material harmful to a minor and making harassing telephone calls.

Deputies have accused him of contacting two female preteen victims and trying to persuade them into having sex.

Investigators claim the man admitted to making several fake online profiles, pretending to be a boy, then used those profiles to solicit young girls for sex — both online and on the phone.

According to the warrant against the man, one victim told investigators the man asked her for sex and for nude pictures of her via Facebook. She also alleges that he made a lewd phone call to her, according to the warrant. Investigators reported that they have another witness who claims to have received a similar obscene phone call from Meadows.

The man was booked into the Clay County Jail on $150,012 bond.

Sex crimes accusations are quite serious and the penalties attached to a conviction can be life changing. Certain sex crime convictions require the individual to register as a sexual offender. These include convictions involving minors, like this case, as well as sexual battery and rape, and sexual misconduct.

Sexual offenders and predators must report to the local sheriff’s office and provide personal information, including a home address, employment information, school information, email addresses and IP addresses, as well as other criminal information. Sexual offenders are required to re-register two or four times a year, depending on the conviction. Per Florida federal law, even registered sex offenders who are only visiting, attending school or working in Florida on a temporary basis, and reside outside the state, must register as sexual offenders in Florida.

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A Central Florida synthetic drug ring that was allegedly operating out of a chain of smoke shops called Pipe Dreams was busted following a year long investigation.

Five people were charged, including the two primary dealers, a 74-year-old co-owner of the shop and his 39-year-old wife and other co-owner.  

The man was arrested Thursday. His wife has not yet been arrested.

8042456462_8b3ce03115_zHe was charged with racketeering, sale/delivery of a controlled substance, manufacture/delivery of drug paraphernalia, conspiracy to sell/deliver controlled substance, and conspiracy to manufacture/deliver drug paraphernalia.

She will face the same charges once she is arrested, according to officials.

The investigation into the smoke shops in Seminole, Lake, Orange and Volusia counties began last August after officials received complaints that they sold synthetic narcotics.

Agents conducted a series of undercover operations and made controlled purchases in order to identify the persons involved with the drug deals, according to law enforcement.

The City County Investigative Bureau and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement searched five Pipe Dreams locations in December and allegedly seized liquid tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC and several million dollars worth of drug paraphernalia.

In raids like this, it is important to identify whether the search was done in a constitutional manner. If not, any evidence obtained in the search may be suppressed in court. Likewise, it should be determined what seized products are actually illegal. If arrested for possession or sale of synthetic drugs, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense and drug crimes lawyer on your side to make sure your rights are protected. At Whittel & Melton, our Seminole County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers work around the clock to make sure your rights and freedom are protected.

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An affordable housing contractor accused of stealing millions of dollars in kickbacks to four Miami-based developers pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing federal government subsidies intended to help the poor.

The 57-year-old owner of a South Florida based construction company, faces between two and three years in prison at his sentencing this fall after reaching a plea deal on a theft conspiracy charge with the U.S. attorney’s office.

The man was charged with paying about $6.2 million in kickbacks to various founders and CEOs of different housing groups.

297924038_e957335351_zAccording to records filed in Miami federal court, they all allegedly cut a “side agreement” to inflate the construction costs of low-income apartment projects in Miami-Dade County to qualify for bigger government subsidies and then pocketed the “excess” profits.

The man accused allegedly made $1.3 million off the illicit scheme, according to prosecutors.

This man is the second builder to plead guilty in the alleged fraud conspiracy.

Last month, a 63-year-old founder of another construction company pleaded guilty to the same theft conspiracy charge, stemming from paying more than $1 million in kickbacks to other groups, according to records.

Federal conspiracy charges are nothing to joke about. When the federal government has invested the time, money and resources into indicting you on a federal charge, it is guaranteed that they will pursue your case in court quite aggressively. A charge like conspiracy carries significant sentencing and long-term consequences, so it is important that you seek the best legal representation so that your case can be handled accordingly.

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A Pasco County law enforcement officer was arrested Tuesday night after authorities claim he showed up to meet a 15-year-old boy for sex in Davie.

The 22-year-old Pasco County Sheriff’s deputy is facing a federal charge of luring or enticing a minor into sexual activity.

In early June, deputies believe the man and the teen started exchanging very graphic messages through an online service.

A deputy apparently took control of the teen’s phone in mid-July and began communicating with the man. The deputy pretended he was the boy.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco immediately fired the man, who was still a probationary employee because he had worked there for only about nine months.

According to investigators, the man had extremely explicit online conversations about sex with the teen.

In the next few days, the undercover deputy wrote that he replied to the man’s messages and told him he was a 15-year-old virgin.

The man allegedly asked the “teen” to meet him for sex and asked if the minor would be able to stay overnight at a hotel, according to court records.

The man arranged to meet the 15-year-old at 8 p.m. Tuesday night at Pine Ridge Plaza on State Road 84, according to authorities.

8598246170_a96656631a_z (2)Davie police arrested the man when he showed up at the plaza in a black Ford F-150 truck and sent a message that he had arrived. Police searched the vehicle and apparently found an iPhone with some of the messages the two had exchanged.

The man allegedly told police that he messed up and knew he the boy was 15.

He is scheduled to be in court Friday for a bond hearing.

The investigation was conducted by Davie police detectives who work with the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force.

Local and federal law enforcement agencies routinely conduct undercover sting operations in which they have an officer pose as a minor in online chat rooms, social networking sites, and as this case shows, even on the other end of a text message conversation. When an adult arranges to meet with the undercover officer who they think is a minor, law enforcement agents will immediately arrest them.

Whatever your particular case may entail, the most important thing to know is that the charges you face are very serious. You are facing life-changing penalties if convicted, including significant fines, prison time for any attempt to actually meet a minor, registration as a sex offender and life-long challenges on your personal and financial well-being.

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A 46-year-old Texas man plead guilty to manufacturing counterfeit Federal Reserve notes, false representation of a Social Security number and aggravated identity theft.

The man faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison for the counterfeit note and false representation charges, to be followed by a consecutive mandatory minimum of 2 years in federal prison for the aggravated identity theft charge.

According to the plea agreement, on Feb. 2, 2015, the Green Cove Springs Police Department received information that two individuals, one of them later identified as the accused and another man, were manufacturing counterfeit Federal Reserve notes in their hotel room at the Astoria Hotel in Clay County.

The two men apparently had active arrest warrants for parole violations in Texas and were subsequently arrested at the hotel by deputies from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

2397205917_37bd3a5fe6_zDeputies claim they found a counterfeit $100 note on one of the men after his arrest.

During an interview with law enforcement, the men allegedly disclosed that they were involved in a drug deal in Texas in December 2014 and had been on the run ever since. Police claim they estimated printing and passing at least $10,000 in counterfeit currency. Police also believe they printed counterfeit checks using the identities of others.

Agents claim they located a box of personal identification information and financial documents belonging to other individuals, a printer/scanner/copier with counterfeit checks lying on top of it, counterfeit currency, and various computer media which had been used to manufacture the counterfeit currency during a search of the men’s hotel room.

A third man was also charged in the case for passing counterfeit currency.

This case was investigated by the Green Cove Springs Police Department, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Secret Service Jacksonville Field Office.

Under federal law, it is illegal to defraud, produce, forge, or alter any “obligation or other security” of the United States, which includes money. Penalties for manufacturing counterfeit currency include fines up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in prison. Similar offenses relating to counterfeiting currency  include distributing, selling, or possessing counterfeit money and possessing counterfeiting tools.

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Two women accused of shoplifting from a Fleming Island Kohl’s ran from deputies and then allegedly carjacked a driver on U.S. 17 in Green Cove Springs, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

The women, a 47-year-old and a 28-year-old, were arrested Monday and charged with carjacking and false imprisonment.

Deputies claim additional charges are pending regarding the alleged shoplifting incident at Kohl’s.

The alleged victim of the carjacking was not injured.

According to reports, shortly after 5 p.m. on Monday, the women were seen taking items and placing them inside their purses. They fled Kohl’s in a 2001 green Kia Rio with a North Carolina plate.

A deputy saw the Rio on U.S. 17, driving south toward Green Cove Springs, and attempted to pull it over.

The deputy reported that the driver signaled she would pull over. The deputy claims he saw the female passenger throwing clothes into the back seat and throwing what looked like price tags out of the front passenger window.

According to the police report, as they approached the intersection of Russell Road, the woman ran a red light, almost hit a white pickup truck and then hit the median, which busted the car’s front passenger tire.

The woman apparently kept driving. The deputy said he saw her pull into the parking lot of a Wendy’s on U.S. 17 and then pull out of the parking lot of a Winn-Dixie and turn east onto County Road 315. At that point, the deputy said he was told to discontinue pursuit of the Rio, and he headed toward the Orange Park substation.

While driving back to Orange Park, the deputy claims he spotted the Rio disabled on the side of the road and saw the two women running out into traffic. The deputy believes the women stopped in front of a silver Toyota Venza.

The driver of the Toyota stopped to see if the women needed help. According to reports, the women told the woman to drive them to the hospital, but she said no but offered them her phone to call 911.

The women allegedly forced their way into the woman’s car and told her to drive them to the hospital.

The woman told police she began driving until she saw the deputy pull up behind her with his lights and sirens on and stopped.

The women are both being held in the Clay County Jail on $180,000 bond.

Carjacking is the criminal act of taking a vehicle from a driver by threat, violence or intimidation. It is a form of robbery – the item being stolen is the automobile itself. If the carjacker is armed, it is considered armed robbery.

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As a U.S. citizen, you have what is known as Miranda Rights. The term Miranda Rights has its origins in a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court Case known as Miranda v. Arizona. The court’s ruling on this matter gives anyone in police custody or facing potential criminal charges to be advised of their right against self-incrimination. This is also an element of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

2240909776_a1097c87ca_zIf you are taken into police custody for any reason, you are required to be given a Miranda warning briefing you on your rights. The Miranda warning must include the following information:

  1. You have the right to remain silent
  2. Anything you say may later be used against you
  3. You are legally entitled to speak with an attorney
  4. If you are unable to afford an attorney, one will be provided for you at no cost

The main purpose of a Miranda warning is to let the person in police custody understand that they have the right to remain silent. This must be communicated clearly to the person detained before any questioning by law enforcement.

What Does It Mean for You if You Were Not Given a Miranda Warning?

If law enforcement fails to properly advise or “mirandize” an individual in custody, the case could be dismissed, but this all depends on the evidence available. If the case has been established mostly on statements that the individual gave without a proper notice of Miranda warnings then those statements could be deemed inadmissible, which would likely lead to a dismissal. If the case has been built based on other evidence, then it is unlikely that the case will hinge on the lack of proper notice of Miranda Rights, but depending on specifics, the case could still possibly be dismissed.

What To Do If You Are Arrested

If you have been arrested and read your Miranda warnings, it is important to ask to speak to your lawyer immediately. Despite what law enforcement may tell you while you are in their custody, police investigators are not looking out for your best interests.

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Alachua County sheriff’s deputies arrested a mother Sunday night after they allegedly found a home inhabited by a toddler that was full of ingredients used to cook methamphetamine.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office was called to a residence in the Hidden Oaks Mobile Home Park around 10 p.m., where they claim they found the front door open and a 2-year-old boy toddling about.

Deputies said a woman identified herself as the boy’s grandmother. They allege she appeared disoriented and told deputies she knew nothing of the reported disturbance.

The woman was not aware she was the only one there to watch the child, according to police.

A short time later, deputies allege a woman arrived and told deputies she was the boy’s mother. Deputies claim the 41-year-old mom also appeared disoriented and said she knew nothing of a disturbance.

Deputies searched the home for anyone else who may have called, and claim they found a trash bag filled with ingredients and tools used to cook methamphetamine using what is called the “one-pot” method.

The woman was charged with trafficking methamphetamine and possession of the drug with intent to distribute. She was booked into the Alachua County jail early Monday morning and was still awaiting a bond hearing.

Alachua County court records show Cannon was convicted in 2013 on a petty theft charge.

The boy is in relatives’ care and undergoing medical treatments monitored by the Florida Department of Children and Families, according to police.

DCF has launched its own investigation.

Meth manufacturing charges are very serious. Additionally, the presence of children can only increase the penalties you may face. After being charged with trafficking methamphetamine you need to seek legal help immediately. In order to provide you with the most effective defense of these charges, a criminal defense lawyer must understand the different methods used to make methamphetamine, including one-pot, shake and bake, anhydrous, and others, as well as the proper procedure law enforcement must follow at the scene.

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