Despite the stepped-up efforts of Florida and federal law enforcement agencies to crack down in the spread of synthetic drugs in this state, the problem persists. In some ways, it may be getting worse, as some sellers of these substances are bold enough to market them from retail establishments.
An example of this phenomenon comes from the news, where recently in Orlando police raided an establishment that sells marijuana-related paraphernalia on suspicion that it also marketed synthetic hash oil through a chain of smoke shops in Central Florida.
From the viewpoint of defending clients against drug charges, this story has several notable characteristics:
- Drug investigations will frequently involve multiple levels of law enforcement. In this case, federal, state, county and local law enforcement agents working together spent about a year investigating the smoke shop chain before moving to make arrests. The investigation included undercover agents making a series of controlled purchases to gather evidence and to establish knowledge on the part of the suspects with regard to what they were allegedly doing.
- Drug charges often do not occur in a vacuum, but will be part of a package of criminal accusations. Aside from the charge of selling and delivering a controlled substance in the form of synthetic drugs, the owners of the smoke shop chain have also been accused of racketeering, manufacturing and delivery of drug paraphernalia, and conspiracy.
- You do not need to be a “kingpin” to be caught up in a drug investigation. Aside from the owners of the chain, the store employees were also subject to arrest.
Given the resources that law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are prepared to devote to anti-drug activities, and the plethora of charges that they can levy against you, if you find yourself the subject of a drug investigation or are arrested on drug charges you will need the assistance of defense counsel experienced with defending against state and federal prosecutions involving potentially complex litigation.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Agents: Smoke-shop chain made, sold synthetic hash oil,” Tiffany Waldren, August 14, 2015