Articles Posted in Drugs

Federal investigators began looking into a suspected grow house in Boca Raton back in 2011. But just a few days after they began their inquiry, the prime suspect allegedly fled the country for Costa Rica. marijuana

Now, the 69-year-old has been extradited from the Central American country to face charges of illegal marijuana cultivation. However, The Sun-Sentinel reports the man, appearing recently before a Palm Beach County judge, insists he was never an international fugitive because he wasn’t hiding. He pointed to the fact that he continued to pay his taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. What’s more, he was collecting his Social Security payments addressed to Costa Rica and he was even registered with the U.S. Embassy there. He also opened a cigar store and lounge in the capital city and gave interviews to local media.

Ultimately, it was a local dispute regarding his cigar store that garnered the attention of local officials, who later discovered he was wanted in the U.S. He later agreed to the extradition to the U.S. on the marijuana grow house charges, which were filed after he left the country. Investigators say there were a total of 984 marijuana plants on the property. Continue reading

Often, when people think of “child neglect,” they think of someone who has either left a young child alone or who willfully fails to feed, shelter or clothe them. However, it can also mean a failure to properly supervise that child or, as noted in F.S. 827.03, it can mean not providing services necessary to maintain a child’s physical and mental health. This kind of broad interpretation is meant to give authorities leverage to ensure children are safe.child

The state has a valid and vested interest in this, of course. However, the charge is often filed in many drug cases to be used as leverage against defendants. The accused individuals may be offered deals to plead guilty to certain drug offenses, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the child neglect charge, which may complicate matters of child custody and haunt them into the future. Prosecutors know a conviction for child neglect carries a heavy social stigma, and is much more difficult to explain away to a potential employer than a drug possession charge.

If you are charged with child neglect in Florida, you could be facing up to five years in prison – and that is assuming the neglect doesn’t result in any great bodily harm. It’s a third-degree felony. It is imperative that you contact an experienced defense lawyer to help you navigate through this type of case, not just for your own sake, but for the sake of your family.  Continue reading

Drug trafficking is a serious offense in Florida, and it can lead to decades behind bars for those convicted. The failed War on Drugs for years pushed this arcane agenda that often led to even low-level offenders serving many years in prison. Today, even as some of those minimum mandatory penalties for possession have been rolled back, dealers of illicit drugs still face hefty punishment. Additionally, as addiction to heroin and prescription opioids has become epidemic nationally, prosecutors are increasingly looking to hold responsible doctors and dealers for fatal overdoses. That can mean a possible life sentence for simply writing a prescription or a single, low-level drug deal. needle

That’s what happened recently in Palm Beach County, where a federal jury sentenced a 25-year-old man to 30 years in prison for supplying a 23-year-old man the dose of fentanyl on which he later fatally overdosed. In what is believed to be the first federal prosecution of its kind, The Sun Sentinel reported jurors found the defendant, Christopher Massena, criminally liable for the death of the other young man.

In this case, the fentanyl sold to the decedent was reportedly 50 to 100 times more powerful than the heroin the victim believed he was buying. This, alleged prosecutors, displayed a “total disregard for human life,” warranting the three-decade sentence. The U.S. District Judge additionally ordered the defendant to serve three years of supervised probation upon his release and to pay restitution to the victim’s parents in the amount of $5,000.  Continue reading

Federal authorities recently made dozens of arrests in Broward County for alleged trafficking in drugs and guns. In all, officials filed federal charges against 29 defendants in 23 separate cases, which ranged from narcotics trafficking conspiracy, narcotics trafficking and firearms-related offenses. That’s according the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which released a statement alleging defendants sold nearly 300 firearms to undercover officers. Among those weapons: AKs, AR-15s, revolvers, pistols, sniper rifles and short barrel rifles. Defendants are also accused of sales of heroin, cocaine, flakka, marijuana and oxycodone to undercover agents. gun

The release indicates federal authorities worked closely with local officials in Pompano Beach to conduct undercover surveillance and gather intelligence. DEA Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Wright said this case is illustrative of the fact that crime is often inter-related, and where there are drugs, there are often illegally possession/ dealing of firearms and other offenses.

Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys know that many defendants in these cases are facing numerous federal charges of varying seriousness. These kinds of cases, both because of their complexity and the potential for decades-long prison sentences, necessitate the assistance of an experienced defense lawyer.  Continue reading

Florida voters overwhelmingly agreed that medical marijuana should be legal in the Sunshine State – but don’t expect cultivation and possession arrests to drop off any time soon.marijuana plants

Amendment 2, in favor of access to medicinal cannabis for those with certain serious illnesses, received a groundswell of support from the electorate. But it’s also a very short piece of legislation, which means there is a significant amount of power in the hands of the Florida Department of Health to make rules for medical marijuana treatment centers. There is still the need to hammer out procedures for licensing, registration, records, testing, labeling, inspection, security and revocation of registration. Further, a number of cities in South Florida have temporarily banned marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers, arguing officials need time to weigh the effects on the community and set zoning regulations.

In the meantime, don’t expect any breaks when it comes to the prosecution of marijuana-related crimes. Just recently, according to The Sun-Sentinel, a 40-year-old in Deerfield Beach was arrested for growing some 200 marijuana plants inside two residences in the city. Authorities first searched a home on Southeast Eleventh Street and discovered 25 marijuana plants growing in two separate bedrooms. He was arrested at that location. Investigators then went to a residence on Southeast Tenth Street, also owned by defendant, and there discovered an additional 169 marijuana plants, plus 12,000 grams of packaged cannabis and a jar of cannabis oil. He was arrested on charges of manufacturing/ producing cannabis and suspicion of traffic marijuana greater than 25 pounds less than 2,000 pounds. Continue reading

Thousands of individuals convicted on potentially tainted scientific evidence have been waiting years for the chance to clear their name, ProPublica recently reported. arrest

Four years ago, a long-time chemist working at a state drug laboratory in Massachusetts admitted to contaminating samples over the course of her nearly nine-year career, resulting in more than 20,000 drug crime convictions that could have potentially been flawed. Those cases involved people from all across the nation and from eight different countries. In many cases, defendants were jailed. In some cases, defendants were deported. At the time, prosecutors insisted to the governor that addressing any possible breaches of justice would be priority No. 1.

Unfortunately, that has not proven to be true. Four years later, and prosecutors have battled to hang onto pretty much every single conviction garnered with this flawed evidence. Meanwhile, defense attorneys arguing on behalf of potentially innocent defendants are asking courts to vacate all the convictions that relied to any substantial degree on that lab worker’s tainted results.  Continue reading

Dontrell Stephens was awarded $23 million earlier this year by a federal jury after he was paralyzed from the waist down when shot by a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy after being stopped for riding his bicycle into traffic. wheelchair

Now, he is facing felony drug charges for reportedly selling heroin, cocaine and marijuana in close proximity to a preschool. Authorities announced the arrest of the 23-year-old Palm Beach County man in a Facebook post with his mugshot and the hashtag “BUSTED.” It was the first arrest the agency announced since it posted news of an arrest in a 40-year-old murder case. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office said the announcement on Facebook had “nothing to do with who he is, but was because he was arrested for selling drugs near a day care.”

Right…

She also insisted the agency wasn’t trying to publicize the arrest because they hadn’t issued a press release to the media. Formal press release or not, most reporters do follow the agency’s official Facebook page and would have seen it featured fairly prominently.  Continue reading

The so-called, “War on Drugs” has been an irrefutable failure in so many respects, to the point many states and municipalities have been actively working to de-criminalize possession of marijuana and related non-violent offenses. However, this does not meant that those caught with the substance can expect a break. marijuana

The Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-marijuana advocacy group, reports that since June 2015, numerous cities and counties in Florida have taken marijuana policy into their own hands to reduce the chances that consumers of marijuana are going to be arrested or jailed. Those include measures taken by: Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Hallandale Beach, Key West, West Palm Beach, Broward County, Wilton Manors, Palm Beach County, Volusia County, Orlando, Tampa, Osceola County, Alachua County and Port Ritchie. (Specifically here in Broward County, commissioners voted unanimously to give police the option to issue a $100 civil fine rather than arrest those caught with 20 grams or less of the drug. However, police still have the choice to make an arrest, at their discretion.)

But the question is whether laws like this are actually making a real dent. According to a new report by The Human Rights Watch, there continues to be a drug possession arrest in the U.S. every 25 seconds.  Continue reading

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