Articles Posted in Drugs

Police in Fort Lauderdale recently made a targeted effort to take down an alleged drug trafficking ring in South Middle River near downtown. They launched a six month undercover investigation, dubbed “Operation Bad Karma,” in which they ultimately made 22 arrests, aided by the U.S. Marshals Office and the Broward State Attorney’s Office.handcuffs1

Chief Frank Adderley said the goal was to reduce the proliferation of crack cocaine in these neighborhoods by arresting those responsible for its sale and distribution. Police suspect the group responsible for dealing crack cocaine in the region was also tied to an uptick in violence in the area over the last 12 months, including a handful of murders.

Residents in the area say they have been complaining for more than a year about open-air drug sales as well as violence connected to those engaged in the drug dealing. Police said the hope was that if they could get a handle on the drug activity, they would curb any further escalation of violence. The effort really got underway with fervor in January, when the bodies of two murder victims were found on the very same property where a man had been killed just three months earlier. Continue reading

Drivers in states where marijuana is legal cannot be pulled over in other states by cops who make assumptions based on solely on the origin of the license plate. That’s according to a ruling by federal justices with the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit. marijuana2

Mind you, this ruling – Vasquez v. Lewis and Jimerson – is technically only applicable in the Tenth Circuit, which covers the six states of Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, plus those portions of the Yellowstone National Park extending into Montana and Idaho. However, given that this is not an issue that has arisen at this level in other jurisdictions, it’s likely to have set a clear precedent on the constitutionality of such practices. Some have referred to policing in this manner as, “license plate profiling.”

It’s not as major of a problem here in Florida because not many other nearby states have allowed legal marijuana, even for medicinal purposes. But that’s not to say someone traveling from Washington or Colorado might not get the side eye from law enforcement here. Based on the reasoning of the 10th Circuit, this is wrong.  Continue reading

Two stolen prescription pads. That’s all authorities say was needed to forge 140 prescriptions for approximately 17,250 doses of powerful prescription drugs, which were then resold on the streets of South Florida, likely for tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Prescription bottles used to store medicine

Authorities allege the group operated in Boynton Beach throughout 2015. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has filed hundreds of charges in the case – including 112 counts against a single 29-year-old woman from Pompano Beach. She and another woman, 25, of Lake Worth were medical assistants at Bethesda Health who allegedly stole the prescription pads from the office of Dr. Edyta Mularczyk, an internist in Boynton Beach. Investigators are accusing them and four others – ages 52 to 62 – of drug trafficking and RICO conspiracy charges. Warrants have been issued for four other individuals, including three from Fort Lauderdale. (Two of those already arrested are from Fort Lauderdale as well.)

It is alleged the group wrote prescriptions for drugs such as oxycodone and morphine, and then sold those drugs on the black market. Warrants for their arrest say the missing prescription pads was the first red flag, though it’s not clear if that was initially reported to police. What staffers began to notice, however, was that the number of prescriptions filled by certain patients aroused suspicions. For example, in one case, a single patient filled 19 prescriptions for powerful pain medications over the course of just a few months.  Continue reading

U.S. prosecutors were dealt a significant blow recently with a decision by justices with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in their decision regarding 10 consolidated appeals of persons facing federal marijuana charges. What the court ruled was that prosecutors can’t use federal tax dollars to prosecute individuals who were acting in accordance with state-approved marijuana laws. marijuanabuds

The ruling follows a 2014 Congressional amendment that strips the Department of Justice of the right to interfere with the state-level implementation of medical marijuana laws. Prior to this, it was not uncommon for federal prosecutors to aggressively pursue those who operated medical marijuana cultivation operations, medical marijuana dispensaries and manufacturers of certain marijuana-infused products.

When this law was passed, numerous people who were being prosecuted by the federal government on these types of charges asked the courts to dismiss their cases, arguing their actions were in compliance with state law. For example, one group of defendants (there were 10 in all in the consolidated appeal) operated a number of L.A. marijuana dispensaries were criminally charged by the feds with distributing more than 100 marijuana plants. The court remanded those consolidated cases back to the lower court for consideration of whether defendants were in fact in compliance with state statutes. If they were, the charges against them should be dismissed.  Continue reading

A man arrested for possession of ecstasy in Fort Lauderdale in 2013 has won $30,000 from the city after the nine pills with yellow hearts stamps reportedly turned out to be aspirin.pills12

The 37-year-old sued the city in civil court alleging false arrest, battery and unlawful search following a 2013. According to The Sun Sentinel, plaintiff in the case, Antonio Grant was a passenger in a vehicle that had been pulled over for expired tags.

He was allegedly handcuffed at gunpoint, ordered face-down on the asphalt and forcibly had his shorts searched. The officer also reportedly searched his rectum digitally to look for drugs. Officers did find nine pills, but testing proved the substance was actually generic aspirin.  Continue reading

It is common in traffic stops where officers suspect the presence of drugs to search the driver and request a search of the vehicle. If an officer finds a substance he or she suspects to be an illicit drug, they rely on a roadside drug test to make the call. The results of these $2 kits, which have largely remained the same in design and process since they were first released in 1973, can mean the difference between a person being released at the scene or being arrested on felony charges.

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In a troubling expose on these kits, The New York Times delved into the accuracy of these kits and what they have meant to the lives of many of the 1.2 million people who are arrested annually in the U.S. on illegal drug possession charges. While those arrested are presumed innocent until proven guilty, these cheap testing kits are often a key deciding factor in how public defenders fight these cases and how prosecutors pursue them.

One analysis of the accuracy of the kits was conducted by the laboratory system operated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). What they discovered was that more than 20 percent of the evidence police listed as “methamphetamine” in fact was NOT methamphetamine. In fact, half of the false positives weren’t even drugs at all. A tracking by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office revealed 15 false methamphetamine positives just in the first seven months of 2014. Further, in combing through department records, officers had been given ambiguous instructions on how to conduct the tests and some misunderstood which colors indicated a positive and which indicated a negative.  Continue reading

In a contentious 5-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court in Utah v. Strieff ruled in favor of a cop who seized drugs after an unlawful stop. It was only after that stop the officer learned the defendant had an outstanding traffic warrant. After making an arrest, the officer searched defendant and found drugs and paraphernalia. Plaintiff argued this evidence should be suppressed under the exclusionary rule. police

However, the majority ruled that although the initial stop was not lawful, which would normally mean any evidence obtained thereafter could not be used against defendant, the court instead chose to apply the attenuation doctrine. This doctrine states that even though the way the evidence was obtained was illegal, such evidence can still be admissible if the connection between the evidence and the illegal method is sufficiently thin or attenuated. The court held that the officer made a good-faith mistake when stopping the defendant, who was leaving a suspected drug house. This was not, the court decided, part of some systematic recurrence of police misconduct and nor would the decision result in the proliferation of dragnet searches for those with outstanding arrest warrants.

Dissenting Justice Sonya Sotomayor, joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, had strong words of rebuke for the majority on this issue, saying unlawful police stops, “Corrode all our civil liberties and threaten our lives.”  Continue reading

It’s been six months since Broward County commissioners downgraded small-time marijuana possession from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil citation. But that law provided an important element: Officer discretion. marijuanabud1

And in the time since the civil citation option has been available, not a single one has been issued. Instead, 80 people have been arrested and processed as criminals for low-level marijuana possession. That’s according to a recent report by The Sun-Sentinel.

In addition to concern from law enforcement that the language on the citation was faulty, the program was allegedly held up for a time by bureaucratic delays. The county reportedly needed time to amass a staff and house them in a new wing of a government building. Those workers were needed to handle the fines, appeals and other issues arising from the program.  Continue reading

A man in Delray Beach is charged with trafficking some $2,000 worth of acid to an undercover informant in Boca Raton, according to The Sun-Sentinelpapersquare

Authorities say 28-year-old Rusty Hoyman repeatedly sold “large amounts” of both LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and MDMA (better known as ecstasy) to the information from January through March.

The confidential informant reportedly revealed to authorities that Hoyman was trying to sell a 100-dose “sheet” for $650 in January. The informant, by that time working closely with detectives, purchased the sheet and then turned the drugs immediately over to police. There were two more reported undercover buys in February and March.  Continue reading

A former pain clinic doctor who worked at a facility in Fort Lauderdale was sentenced to four years of probation, following his conviction last fall on a felony drug charge.pills5

Dr. Gerald Klein, 81, had been facing up to five years in prison for his conviction for illegally selling a prescription of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, to a patient at a clinic in West Palm Beach. That patient happened to be Alejandro Pino, who at the time was working as a chef for now-GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

It could have been much worse for the physician, who last year was staring down the possibility of a life sentence on a first-degree murder charge, following the 2009 overdose death of another patient of the so-called “pill mill” where the doctor worked. In January, twin brothers and co-clinic managers received 15 and 20 years, respectively. Continue reading