Florida authorities have reported that 15 people have been taken into custody in connection with seized drugs worth approximately $7 million. In a May 30 announcement, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said that opioid overdoses in the area have fell dramatically after 3,582 grams of heroin, 770 grams of fentanyl and significant quantities of powder and crack cocaine were discovered during the search of two Crestview homes in February. Deputies say that a small amount of MDMA, which is also known as ecstasy, was also found.
The fentanyl recovered would have been broken down into approximately 300,000 doses according to police. The opioid painkiller has become extremely popular in recent years because of its powerful narcotic properties, but just two milligrams of the drug can cause an overdose according to experts. Law enforcement in Okaloosa County began their investigation, which is known as Operation Payback, in August 2017. Reports indicate that the operation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.
The 33-year-old man thought to have been the leader of the group of individuals involved faces a raft of charges including counts of heroin and cocaine trafficking. In addition to fentanyl that was ready for distribution and sale, police say that they discovered hundreds of diet pills containing the drug. Two handguns, a rifle and various items of drug paraphernalia were also allegedly discovered during the searches.
Those facing serious drug distribution charges often feel that the evidence against them is overwhelming, but prosecutors may be willing to negotiate plea agreements even when their cases are strong. This is because prosecutors work under great pressure and trials are expensive and always involve at least some risk. Experienced criminal defense attorneys could encourage prosecutors to reduce drug charges in return for a speedy settlement by pointing out mitigating factors, questioning the reliability of accomplice testimony or challenging the validity of search warrants.
Source: The Crestview News Bulletin, “OSCO sting leads to largest heroin bust in county history”, Alicia Adams, May 30, 2018