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Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

Ten arrested in drug trafficking bust

On Sept. 17, Florida authorities announced the arrests of 10 people allegedly connected with a drug distribution ring in the central part of the state. One person remains at large.

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the drug ring was led by four siblings, who were among those taken into custody. They reportedly worked with the other defendants to transport heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine from Mexico to Florida, where the drugs were sold. The drugs were allegedly supplied by members of a Mexican cartel, and the ring transported up to 10 kilos of heroin into the U.S. each month.

Ocala couple nabbed for selling drugs from mobile home window

On August 23, Florida authorities arrested a man and a woman for allegedly dealing drugs out of their mobile home's kitchen window. A raid of their Ocala property uncovered fentanyl and various pieces of drug paraphernalia.

According to the Ocala Police Department, officers had recently responded to multiple overdose incidents in the area of the couple's trailer. The occurrences reportedly involved heroin laced with fentanyl. Authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for the property after an undercover officer bought drugs from the home in mid-August.

People at Miami billing company convicted of health care fraud

The owner and two managers operating Billing USA, a medical billing company located in Little Havana, have been convicted of health care fraud. A federal prosecutor documented their fraudulent claims totaling $5,692,102 to the insurers Blue Cross and Cigna.

These bills represented fake medical procedures associated with a clinic in Little Havana. An email from the U.S. Department of Justice explained that this clinic and others would send paperwork known as super-bills to Billing USA. The billing company then entered the super-bill information into insurance claims forms. Billing USA collected 6 percent on all funds paid to medical providers by insurers. At times, Billing USA created the super-bills on behalf of client clinics. Clinics would then produce fake medical records to document the claims.

Will you have to pay for an ignition interlock device over a DUI?

Facing any driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Florida is certainly frightening. There are serious potential consequences involved, even for first-time offenders. In addition to the potential for jail time and significant fines, those who plead guilty or get convicted of a DUI will likely end up completing community service and losing their license.

After that license is reinstated, people often think they can get on with their lives. However, and many cases, they must first participate in an ignition interlock device (IID) program. Depending on the number of DUI charges on your record and the presence of any complicating factors (such as children in the vehicle or very high blood alcohol concentration), even first-time DUI offenders may have to install an IID in their vehicle.

Report of marijuana smell leads to drug charges

A 27-year-old Florida man is facing a raft of drug charges after being confronted by police for smoking marijuana inside a Melbourne medical center. Police allegedly discovered cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia during a search of the man's backpack. Reports indicate that he was transported to the Brevard County jail for processing and his bond has been set at $73,500.

According to media accounts, officers from the Melbourne Police Department were dispatched to the Brevard Health Alliance facility on Sarno Road at approximately 12:30 p.m. Emergency dispatchers are said to have received a call from one of the hospital's security guards who claimed to have detected the odor of marijuana in a public bathroom. Police say that they observed the man exiting a stall when they entered the bathroom in question.

4 men charged for distributing heroin in Florida

The State Attorney's Office has reported that four men have been charged with distributing more than 2 kilograms of heroin in Manatee County. The men are ages 24, 29, 30 and 39, and two are from Manatee County. The remaining two men are from Orlando and Dade City.

Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at a home in Dade City where the men were alleged to be cutting pure heroin for street sales. During the search, agents reportedly recovered 1.4 kilograms of uncut heroin and 900 grams of cut heroin. They also claim to have found crack cocaine, 2 ounces of methamphetamine and a firearm.

Is there a link between opioid misuse and criminal history?

Many Florida residents are aware of the opioid problem in the nation and some of the effects it can have on society. But a recent survey shines light on a potential connection between misuse of the drug and criminal histories. The survey of more than 75,000 participants dealt with the level of use of opioid-based drugs, including heroin. The level of use was divided into five categories ranging from no use to heroin abuse. It also included those on prescription pain killers.

The study then determined whether participants had a criminal history, which it defined as offenses greater than minor traffic violations. The results showed a steep upward curve based on the level of use. Those with no use were shown to have a criminal history in only 15 percent of the participants but a 75 percent history among heroin abusers. A criminal history was found in more than half of those with a non-heroin opioid disorder.

Florida woman accused of trafficking meth and heroin

A statement released by the Sumter County Sheriff's Office after the arrest of a 32-year-old woman on Interstate 95 did not offer a reason for her initial traffic stop. Deputies reported that they stopped her 2018 Cadillac XTS close to the interstate's southbound on-ramp in the Wildwood area. Deputies called for a K-9 unit, and the dog reportedly signaled that the vehicle contained narcotics.

A search of the vehicle allegedly produced methamphetamine, heroin and $5,098 in cash. According to a news release from the sheriff's office, authorities seized 2.21 pounds of methamphetamine and 170 grams of heroin.

Losing your license is common for those facing a DUI

Florida, like every state, does everything it can to deter people from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Those accused of driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida face a number of criminal and civil penalties that will vary depending on the circumstances of the offense. If a driver causes a crash with injuries or property damage, the penalties could be higher. The same is true for those who have previous convictions for the same offense on their records.

Whether you're dealing with your first DUI or your third, you need to understand the ways in which these charges could impact your life. Other than jail time and fines, one of the biggest issues related to DUI convictions is the loss of driving privileges. In general, those facing DUI charges will also have to deal with the loss of their licenses from six months to the rest of their lives. That can wreak serious havoc with your future.

How money is laundered

Money laundering is the action of making dirty money appear as if it has come from a legitimate source. To engage in money laundering, an individual or organization in Florida will take cash earned from an illegal activity and layer it. This is the process of using accounting tricks to conceal the source of the funds. When layering is complete, it will look as if a criminal entity has obtained money legally.

In some cases, money will be laundered through the use of wire transfers or currency exchanges. It can also be done by having someone physically smuggle the illicit cash into another country to take advantage of looser banking laws. Some criminal entities will create front organizations to funnel money into a bank. For example, the organization will filter money through a restaurant before it goes into a legitimate account with a financial institute.

Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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