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Articles Posted in Drug Trafficking

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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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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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During the beginning of the war on drugs, young African Americans heard rumors of government involvement in the crack-cocaine explosion that outraged LA’s black community. Although it was not openly talked about in the media in the 80’s, in 1996, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb published his book, “Dark Alliance,” that connected the African American crack-cocaine surge to a thoroughly planned CIA operation. Major news network entities, including The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, attacked Webb’s research, ultimately discrediting his work. In December 2004, Webb committed suicide.

7724848260_ba4500da86_mNow, Webb’s expose is being further reviewed in a documentary, “Freeway: Crack in the System,” which tells the story of “Freeway” Rick Ross, who created a crack empire in LA during the 1980s and is a key figure in Webb’s “Dark Alliance” narrative. The documentary is being released following the major motion picture “Kill The Messenger,” starring Jeremy Renner in the role of Webb which is now in theatres.  The documentary focuses on key figures in the CIA now stepping forward to tell their stories in a series of interviews with The Huffington Post.

The film not only explores the corrupt foundations of the war on drugs, but also questions the jail sentences the U.S. justice system doled out to a mostly minority population, all while the country’s own foreign policy assisted the drug trade.

According to research from The Sentencing Project, in 1980, there were roughly 40,000 drug offenders in U.S. prisons. By 2011, the number of drug offenders serving prison sentences skyrocketed to more than 500,000. It is important to note that most of these offenders are not high-level operators and do not have prior criminal records.

The “War on Drugs” in the United States translates to mean that the federal and Florida drug laws give vast powers to law enforcement and prosecutors, which can end in the overzealous prosecution of even the most minor drug crimes, causing innocent people and first-time offenders to be sentenced to lengthy prison terms. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers work tirelessly to defend clients accused of misdemeanor and felony drug crimes.

The penalties you could face for a drug crime all depend on the type of drug in question as well as the amount of the drug. Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys have years of experience handling crimes involving all types of drugs, narcotics and controlled substances, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamines
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • PCP
  • Prescription Pills

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Columbia County detectives served a search warrant on a home in Columbia County on Thursday and allegedly found 73 marijuana plants growing and made three arrests.

Police apparently received a tip about the Fort White home, which they allege was operating as an indoor marijuana grow operation.

Those arrested include a 74-year-old Fort White man, a 45-year-old Tampa man and a 50-year-old Tampa man. All three men arrested were charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana of more than 20 grams and possession drug paraphernalia. They were booked into the Columbia County Detention Facility.

marijuana grow houseThe Drug Task force made the arrests and is comprised of law enforcement personnel from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Lake City Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Marijuana plants are currently illegal in the State of Florida. However, that does not stop people from transforming their homes into a “grow house.” Once police catch wind of an alleged grow house, they quickly start investigating, looking to arrest someone and charge them with various felonies, including possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, cultivation of cannabis and trafficking in cannabis. Trafficking is the most serious of these charges, requiring 300 or more plants at any stage of growth, and is a first-degree felony carrying a minimum mandatory prison term.

If you know you are being investigated by police, or have already been arrested, you must act fast and obtain the help of a criminal defense lawyer right away. There are steps that can be taken during investigations to prevent police from obtaining further evidence against you. That is why you must not delay, contact a Columbia County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton today.

Manufacturing marijuana in Florida is a felony. Under the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act, it is also illegal to own or rent a home for the purpose of growing or possessing marijuana plants. Convictions from grow house charges can vary from five to 30 years in prison depending on the size of the operation and if any children were present in the home.

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Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents arrested Mike Classey, who resigned just last week as chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department.

Classey, 50, was placed on administrative leave Sept. 19 after the city learned of a criminal investigation being conducted by the FDLE. And one week ago, Classey resigned.

Classey was arrested Tuesday and charged with 18 counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of trafficking in codeine, tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to reports, Classey turned himself in and was booked into the Duval County jail on $136,036 bond.

State Attorney Angela Corey and FDLE officials claim agents began investigating Classey after receiving a tip from the Department of Homeland Security. They allegedly intercepted a package containing controlled substances from India addressed to “Michael Cassey” at a UPS store post office box. Agents claim Classey showed up at the store to pick up that package, as well as a second package.

One package allegedly contained Xanax and the other contained injectable steroids.

5231885791_da7b35bea4_zFDLE searched Classey’s home on Sept. 19 and reportedly found what was described as large quantities of various steroids, Codeine, Xanax and syringes.

Agents apparently asked the man for the computer that he ordered the alleged drugs on, and he told them he had asked his son to dispose of it. Investigators claim they later found it in a trash container.

The man’s resignation is not tied to the Police Department or his job.

In order for police to charge you with tampering with evidence, you must have done either of the following while knowing that an investigation is going on or will soon:

  • 1. Hide, destroy or alter a piece of evidence, such as a document, weapon or even drugs in order to interfere with the investigation.
  • 2. Use false evidence to trick or confuse investigators or to interfere with the investigation.

If you are convicted of tampering with evidence, this is something that will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. Despite the circumstances surrounding your case, even just an accusation that you tampered with evidence in a criminal investigation can tarnish your reputation and good standing in the community. With that said, understand that these charges are extremely serious and must be given the high level of attention that they deserve.

A Duval County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you if you have been charged with tampering with evidence. First and foremost, we will conduct an extensive investigation into the charges to look for any mistakes law enforcement made during their investigation, as well as any other legal issues that can be raised on your behalf.

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A ring of 74 suspected drug dealers allegedly infiltrating Lake County with cocaine, heroin and prescription pills have been charged with various drug-related charges.

These arrests come after a four-month undercover investigation where the Lake County Sheriff’s Office claims the members of the drug ring were caught red handed. The charges resulted from the undercover operation dubbed “Close to Home,” which was started due to numerous citizen complaints. Investigators claim they seized two pounds of heroin, seven ounces of cocaine and about 300 prescription pills, totaling nearly $140,000 in street value.

The Sheriff’s Office announced that those involved in this alleged drug ring never strayed too far from home. They allegedly made transactions where families are shopping with their children.

5829666604_516663f8ee_mSo far, arrest warrants have been served on 67 suspects. The investigation was conducted by the Lake County Sheriff’s office along with Clermont, Mount Dora and Leesburg police departments, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Orlando division of the U.S. Marshal’s Office. The state Department of Children and Families is also involved. Children found in the homes that were searched have been placed with other family members.

Investigators also seized 23 vehicles, including two BMWs and two Suzuki motorcycles, along with 20 guns and about $33,000 in cash. According to officials, the vehicles will be sold or used by the participating agencies.

A majority of the suspects, ranging in age from 18 to 60, are from south Lake, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Police believe the suspected ring leader is a 27-year-old man from Clermont who has a history of drug and criminal charges.

In most large-scale drug trafficking investigations, it is quite common for police to conduct multiple undercover drug transactions with the same suspect, or in this case suspects, before making an arrest. This is just one tactic that allows police to gain new evidence as well as new suspects as they continue to perform undercover transactions. This also gives law enforcement and the State’s Attorney’s Office a powerful edge in negotiating strategies as they can prosecute suspects for numerous different criminal counts.

Those who are facing any type of drug charges must take these matters very seriously. A conviction will likely result in jail time, not to mention a criminal record, which could limit one’s chances of obtaining employment or qualifying for a loan.

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A 33-year-old Okeechobee man who had served nearly four years in prison for trafficking in cocaine was arrested last week in his R-Bar Estates home on felony drug charges.

More than 180 grams of suspected marijuana and more than 24 grams of suspected amphetamine were allegedly found in his home, along with a large amount of cash.

The man was arrested at his home on felony charges of trafficking in amphetamine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a church, possession of marijuana over 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia.

churchThe man is being held in the Okeechobee County Jail on $80,000 bond.

Detectives with the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force obtained a search warrant for the home and reportedly found: a total of 182.8 grams of suspected marijuana; 24.8 grams of ‘molly’, or amphetamine; $3,700 in cash; a ledger; plastic sandwich bags; digital scale; electric marijuana grinder; and, a partially-smoked marijuana cigar, also known as a blunt.

Detectives claim they found 173.7 grams of suspected pot in a small safe located in the master bathroom.

The man’s home is located 663 feet from a church.

The man was arrested in Okeechobee on March 31, 2005, and charged with trafficking in cocaine. He was later convicted on that charge and was sentenced Oct. 19, 2006, to five years with the Department of Corrections. Records show he was released from prison Dec. 1, 2010.

It is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison for possessing marijuana with the intent to sell within 1000 feet of a child care facility or school, university, park, church, public housing or assisted living facility. Many people arrested for possession fail to realize there are enhanced penalties for being in these areas with drugs. This can be devastating as the penalties are quite severe. A felony of this nature will eliminate you from being considered for  a drug diversion program, and prosecutors will fight aggressively to obtain a conviction.

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A group of eight individuals are suspected of using modified tractor trailers to transport cocaine between Texas and Palm Beach County.

The eight suspects from South Florida and the McAllen, Texas area are facing drug charges in a case before the federal courts. All of them are in custody, as they were arrested on Monday and Tuesday in both states.

According to a criminal complaint filed in West Palm Beach federal court, the group was moving 200 kilograms of cocaine a month into Palm Beach County.

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The owner of an Altamonte Mall jewelry store has been arrested on federal charges after his business was raided Wednesday as part of a nationwide sweep on synthetic drugs.

According to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official, the jewelry store owner allegedly oversaw a large synthetic drug operation in Central Florida.

A federal grand jury indicted the man Wednesday, the same day DEA agents raided his Windermere-area home, Altamonte Springs jewelry store and a warehouse on John Young Parkway where he is accused of storing drug paraphernalia.

spiceAgents claim that the man was not selling drugs out of the jewelry store, but allegedly laundered the proceeds through the business.

The owner and his two alleged associated were each indicted on two federal drug charges.

If convicted, prosecutors would seek to forfeit more than $13 million from the suspects, as well as the jewelry store owner’s nearly 8,200-square-foot home on McKinnon Road.

This drug sweep is part of “Project Synergy,” a multi-agency operation targeting all levels of the global synthetic drug market.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the DEA said that the latest phase of “Project Synergy” ended with the arrests of more than 150 people nationwide. Around 200 search warrants were executed across 29 states.

Authorities claim they confiscated hundreds of thousands of individually packaged, ready-to-sell synthetic drugs, hundreds of kilograms of raw synthetic products and more than $20 million cash.

Synthetic drugs are often promoted as bath salts, herbal incense, jewelry cleaner or plant food and have increased in popularity.

Bath salts, which are illegal in Florida, are comprised of substances that are meant to mimic the effects of LSD, cocaine or methamphetamine. These drugs are marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave” and “Vanilla Sky.”

Synthetic marijuana, also referred to as “K2” or “Spice,” is also illegal in Florida and a growing concern among teens and young adults.

Synthetic marijuana and bath salts are considered controlled substances under both state and federal law, which means you are looking at prison time if you are charged with a drug crime involving either of these drugs. Even if you purchased these illegal substances at a smoke shop or head shop in the Altamonte Springs area, you can still be arrested and charged with a drug crime by local authorities or even the DEA.

Along with ecstasy, peyote and LSD, synthetic marijuana and bath salts are classified as schedule I controlled substances under federal law. Schedule I controlled substances are considered highly addictive and are believed to have no medical value. A conviction for a federal drug crime charge, including possession, manufacturing, distributing or trafficking will result in mandatory minimum sentencing, which usually means several years behind bars.

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Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies and undercover detectives conducted a three day county-wide proactive initiative that focused on repeat offenders, drug offenders, offenders on probation and followed up on crime tips and crime trends.

After the three day operation, 101 suspects were arrested and 15 search warrants were served.

Of those detained, 92 are repeat offenders, with a total of 955 prior arrests and more than 1,500 criminal charges.

Deputies and detectives claim they were able to seize $13,378, six firearms, one vehicle, more than two pounds of marijuana and more than three ounces of methamphetamine and 45.1 grams of hydrocodone.

drug sweepThe 101 suspects arrested were charged with 325 offenses, including 180 felonies, 145 misdemeanors, 32 outstanding warrants for 32 felonies and 17 misdemeanors, 5 warrants from other jurisdictions and one fugitive from justice.

Nine of those arrested were currently on probation, and received a violation of probation charge in addition to other charges. According to police, more than 12 of those arrested had active warrants for violating probation.

Reports indicate that 40 of the suspects were receiving public assistance at the time of their arrest, and 32 out of the 101 have served time in prison before.

The investigation focused on Auburndale, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Eloise, Frostproof and Lakeland areas of Polk County.

The sweep was part of the agency’s “Proactive Community Attack on Problems”, also known as the “PROCAP” program, that involves collecting daily crime data, studying trends in the data and delivering that information to supervisors and deputies.

When conducting a drug sweep, police usually raid homes and businesses where they believe drug activity is taking place. Numerous people can be arrested in these operations and charged with drug possession or distribution, as well as additional crimes like weapons charges and probation violations. While police may believe that those they are arrest are dealing drugs, many people caught up in these sweeps are innocent bystanders that have no direct connection to the drug trade.

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