Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

A school security guard in Miami was arrested at his home Monday on multiple drug charges.

According to an arrest report, the 43-year-old was pulled over in his car soon after undercover detectives allegedly watched as he sold drugs to a man at a gas station near the Hammocks district campus during school hours.

Authorities were made aware of the man’s alleged activity through an anonymous tip, investigators said.

About 1 gram of cocaine and a THC cartridge was found in the center console of his vehicle during the stop, according to police.

Police said a search warrant was later obtained for Green’s home at 14232 SW 154th Court, where about 790 grams of marijuana were allegedly discovered in a drawer next to his bed. About 29.4 grams of cocaine were allegedly found in several areas of his room.

According to the arrest report, inside a safe in his bedroom, investigators found a digital scale with cocaine residue on it, 90 clear blue baggies, and $1,000 in cash. Inside a yellow watch case, there were three baggies containing cocaine, and $230 in cash. Investigators also said they discovered additional baggies of cocaine, and a small brown box on a shelf in the same room containing $660 in cash.

The man was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession with intent of cocaine, possession of 29.4 grams of cocaine, and possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school convenience store. He also faces charges for possession of marijuana and possession of a THC cartridge.

Almost all drug charges are felonies and subject to prison sentences of at least one year in prison. The most serious drug crimes, when coupled with other serious charges, can amount to life in prison.

Certain factors can increase the penalties associated with drug possession. If you are arrested in possession of drugs within 1,500 feet of a school or church, it could double your sentence. If you are illegally in possession of a firearm at the time you are arrested, that can also escalate the penalties you face. Facing multiple charges can result in severe penalties that far exceed what most people expect.

Sentencing guidelines in drug cases can be downright shocking. That is why it is imperative to have a South Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton on your side as soon as possible after an arrest. We will do everything we can to obtain dismissals and not-guilty verdicts whenever possible. We will fight to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients.  

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Federal agents arrested about 30 suspects in Broward County and charged them with gun- and drug-trafficking offenses on Wednesday after a two-year undercover investigation targeting gang violence.

Twenty-five of the indicted defendants are felons with a combined history of 426 arrests and 71 convictions, according to authorities.

All of the defendants are supposedly members of the Doom City and Cypress Boys organizations in the Pompano Beach area.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals Service made the arrests and conducted searches, along with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation started in April of last year and entailed 230 undercover operations, resulting in the purchase and recovery of about 250 firearms, according to reports.

Undercover agents also claim they bought multiple kilos of heroin, cocaine, flakka and marijuana and about 500 oxycodone pills from the two gang organizations.

If firearms are connected in any way to drug crimes charge, you can expect to see an increase in prison time and penalties if convicted. Prosecutors will stop at nothing to make sure maximum consequences are enforced.

Drug and weapons offenses are serious and must be dealt with accordingly. Our South Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can challenge the weapons charges as well as the underlying drug crime you are facing. We serve clients throughout Broward County and all of Florida facing state or federal charges.

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The Florida Supreme Court amended the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure last week, stripping Florida state prosecutors of their discretion to disclose information about informants.  Under a new rule that lifts the curtain on the jailhouse snitches who long have been the source of false testimony in criminal cases,  juries will be provided a more complete picture of the context of an informant’s testimony.

The Innocence Commission estimates that as many as 15 percent of convictions later overturned by DNA testing involved false testimony by informants at trial and that informant perjury was a factor in nearly 50 percent of wrongful murder convictions and in 46 percent of exonerations for death row inmates.

New Procedure rules protect defendants from self-serving informant testimony

New Procedure rules protect defendants from self-serving informant testimony

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office is targeting meth labs and are looking to the community to help them on their quest.

News reports claim that eleven methamphetamine-related arrests in recent months prompted a town hall meeting last week, including a Stuart meth lab that was shut down last month and the recent arrest of a Jensen Beach man who was arrested for running a meth lab out of his home, despite being in a wheelchair.

Authorities credit new laws focused on cracking down on pill mills as contributing to the recent increase of methamphetamine use.

We’ve been keeping tabs on the DOJ’s evolving policy on charging federal drug offenses (see past posts, here and here), and it appears that Attorney General Eric Holder is indeed keeping his promise of instituting charging policies that focus on high-level criminals as well as rehabilitation.   As part of those “Smart on Crime” efforts, the attorney general this past week announced a new policy making it easier for some drug defendants to obtain shorter sentences.

Graph courtesy of TRAC/ Syracuse University

Graph courtesy of TRAC/ Syracuse University

The Huffington Post is reporting that number of defendants charged with federal drug crimes in January dropped to its lowest monthly level in nearly 14 years, not long after AG Holder established a series of changes to the criminal justice system.

On Saturday, dozens of soldiers and police officers descended on a condominium tower in Mazatlán, Mexico, acting on a tip that Joaquín Guzmán Loera — a notorious drug kingpin known as El Chapo— was hiding out in the complex.

El Chapo had eluded such raids for 13 years since escaping from prison, by many accounts in a laundry cart. With an army of guards and enforced loyalty, he reigned over a worldwide, multibillion-dollar drug empire that supplied much of the cocaine and marijuana to the United States.

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Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel is considered the largest and most powerful trafficking organization in the world, with a reach as far as Europe and Asia, and has been a main combatant in a spasm of violence that has left tens of thousands dead in Mexico.

The Port St. Lucie Police Department’s initiative, called “Operation Happy Holidays,” resulted in 45 arrests. Port St. Lucie Police, the DEA and FBI  all participated in the operation, including a prostitution sting, highway interdiction, and service of several drug search warrants. 

Police say Operation Happy Holidays focused  on making neighborhoods safer by arresting “potentially dangerous people.”

Port St. Lucie Police Sting nab 45 suspects

Port St. Lucie Police Sting nabs 45 suspects

During the three month operation that began in September, detectives and agents arrested 45 people for charges ranging from drug sale, trafficking heroin and/or methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, cocaine, crack, possession of stolen fire arms and prostitution.  Police collected more than 200 pills, 25 pounds of marijuana, nearly $9,000, five guns, and four vehicles. They also shut down one meth production house in Port St. Lucie and assisted with shutting down two other drug houses in Martin County. 

Police relied heavily on community tips to make these arrests. 

The penalties for drug trafficking in Florida depend on various factors, but the amount of drugs confiscated and the type of type of drug has the most impact on sentences in Florida drug cases. For example, heroin trafficking is the most serious offense and may include a prison sentence of up to 25 years as well as fines of up to $500,000. Trafficking cocaine or marijuana may include a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a $250,000 fine.

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Last month, President Obama expanded his push to curtail severe penalties in drug cases, commuting the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine prior to the passing of the Fair Sentencing Act.

According to news reports, each inmate has been imprisoned for at least 15 years, and six were sentenced to life in prison.

We discussed this issue in August when Attorney General Eric Holder outlined his vision for how the Justice Department, as well as U.S. Attorney Offices throughout the country, would handle low-level drug cases.

Specifically, Holder no longer required that AUSAs list quantities of illicit substances in indictments for low-level drug offenses in order to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences. In that speech to the American Bar Association, he said his focus was on shorter prison sentences for nonviolent criminals, more programs to treat those convicted of low-level drug-related crimes and reductions in the number of crimes that carry “mandatory minimum sentences.”

President Obama’s pardons of these inmates is the first indication that the administration is paying more than lip service to their commitment to correct the disparity that minimum-mandatory sentences create in the criminal justice system.

President Obama indicated that one of the reasons for his pardons was that these inmates, had they been sentenced under the current Fair Sentencing Act, would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. Instead, he reasoned, they remained in prison, costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Prior to the passing of this law, studies show that there was a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses, attributable in part to the unrelenting minimum mandatory sentences judges are limited to imposing in many drug cases.

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