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Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

Almost 300 people arrested in Florida opioid sweep

In late August, Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted a series of drug raids across Florida, resulting in the arrests of almost 300 people. The raids, which were dubbed "Operation Cazador," targeted doctors and pharmacies that allegedly played a role in America's opioid crisis.

According to the DEA, agents seized around 600 pounds of illegal drugs, including over 200,000 opioid pills, during the operation. They also confiscated 35 weapons and assets totaling around $3.3 million. One of those arrested in the raids was a pharmacist who was allegedly dealing opioids out of her pharmacy in Ormond Beach. She was already awaiting trial on similar charges and had lost her license. Another of those arrested was the manager of a Winter Garden convenience store who was allegedly operating a heroin and cocaine ring on the property. Drugs from the store have been tied to several overdose deaths.

Florida teacher facing drug possession charges

A Florida middle school teacher faces an uncertain future after being taken into custody on drug charges during the early morning hours of July 29. An Escambia County official said that the 44-year-old woman has been suspended with pay. The outcome of a Florida Department of Education investigation will determine whether she retains her teaching certificate. She has been charged with marijuana and cocaine possession and possession of a Schedule III controlled substance without a prescription.

According to the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, the woman's silver SUV was pulled over by deputies on Kipling Street in Ferry Pass for an expired tag at approximately 1:00 a.m. During the traffic stop, deputies say they observed narcotics in plain view inside the SUV. They also say they discovered that the woman behind the wheel was driving with an expired driver's license.

Do you understand what Florida considers assault or battery?

If you recently got into a verbal or physical altercation with another person, you might wind up surprised to find out they want to press charges. Perhaps it was simply an aggressive social altercation in which nothing really occurred. It's also possible that you both wound up hurt because of the fight, and you assumed that you both shared responsibility.

If you find yourself facing assault or battery charges after a hostile social interaction or physical fight, you have the right to defend yourself. Familiarizing yourself with the laws in Florida about assault and battery can help you determine if the charges in your case make sense and how best to defend yourself against them.

Man sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking

On July 26, a Florida jury found a Pensacola man guilty of multiple drug trafficking charges. A judge sentenced him to 15 years in state prison on the same day.

According to prosecutors, deputies from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office attempted to serve an arrest warrant on the defendant at the Quality Inn on New Warrington Road on Dec. 8. He was not there, but they were able to track him down at a barbershop on Chief's Way. As they took him into custody, they asked if he had anything illegal in his possession. He said he was carrying illicit drugs. They searched him and found a black sock containing less than 20 grams of marijuana, 51.03 grams of methamphetamine, 7.75 grams of fentanyl, 18.14 grams of heroin, and an unspecified amount of cocaine.

Man facing multiple charges after drugs found

On July 11, Florida authorities arrested a man for allegedly hiding illegal drugs. The stash was discovered during a traffic stop.

According to media reports, deputies from the Flagler County Sheriff's Office executed a traffic stop on the 36-year-old defendant after he was observed speeding and failing to wear a seat belt. They also checked his license and discovered he was driving on a suspended license. After noticing that he seemed to be acting nervous and smelled like marijuana, they asked him to exit the vehicle and patted him down. While conducting the pat down, deputies claimed they felt a bulge near the seat of the defendant's pants. They also noticed he seemed to be clenching his buttocks to keep the bulge in place. They asked him to stop clenching, but he refused.

What the law says about selling drugs

Individuals who are found to be in possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute in Florida will likely be charged with a crime. The exact charge that a person may face depends on the substance, the amount that a person intended to sell, and his or her prior record. In many cases, drug possession on its own is a misdemeanor. However, possession with the intent to distribute is generally treated as a felony.

A defendant could be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines depending on the circumstances in a given case. For instance, if a person sold a controlled substance near a school, he or she could face enhanced penalties if convicted. Penalties may also be enhanced if an individual is found to be in possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance. Penalties could include a lifetime ban on owning a weapon or having to disclose the conviction when applying for a job.

Woman charged with heroin possession and child endangerment

Florida ranks 17th in the nation for drug overdose deaths. The extent of opiate addition in the state produces situations like the one encountered recently by a Volusia County sheriff's deputy. He wrote in his incident report that he watched a woman buy heroin with a toddler sitting behind her in a car.

He arrested the 43-year-old woman and warned her about exposing a child to narcotics, which might contain fentanyl. Even small exposures to this substance could harm a child. The child with the woman was only 2 years old.

Man charged with trafficking meth, heroin

On June 7, a Florida man was arrested on drug charges after authorities tracked him down for failing to appear in court on domestic violence charges. The incident took place in Ocala.

Media reports indicate that deputies from the Marion County Sheriff's Office received a tip that the 31-year-old defendant was staying at a home on the 6400 block of Northwest 11th Avenue. When they went to that location, they saw two men run inside the home and close the door. As they approached the house, they claimed that could detect the odor of marijuana and told everyone to exit the residence.

Former MillerCoors executive sentenced in fraud case

Some people in Florida who enjoy Miller or Coors beers may be aware that one of their top executives was convicted for defrauding the Chicago-based company. On May 16, the 60-year-old man received a sentence of 42 months in prison.

In 2016, the former vice president entered a guilty plea for wire fraud. A judge dealt with seven other people involved in the fraud before sentencing him. An assistant U.S. attorney on the case recommended a sentence of 64 months although she conceded that the man had originally informed federal prosecutors of his crime.

Guilty plea in United Way embezzlement

Florida residents might like to know about a former Milton mayor charged with tax evasion and wire fraud. The man was the director of the Santa Rosa County United Way, and he allegedly embezzled $650,000 from his employer. He pleaded guilty to the charges. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida, the events occurred over a period of several years. He reportedly took money for the organization's business expenses and used donations that others were not aware of to pay United Way bills instead.

To protect himself, Thompson reportedly tried to prevent audits and provided false information to those involved with the United Way. The former executive director gained several thousands of dollars per year in misappropriated funds and did not report this money to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS seized $221,000 from his bank accounts and intends to recover all the embezzled money.

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