In a case that provides a good example of how far government agents can go before committing entrapment, a Miami police officer and firefighter received guilty verdicts in a cocaine trafficking case last week. The case took place in Miami federal court and could result in life sentences.

The police officer and firefighter cooperated to transport 19 kilos of fake cocaine-apparently on behalf of a Miami Beach club manager. The manager was actually an undercover federal agent. Even though the cocaine was fake, a jury still convicted the men for drug trafficking.

This case began after a club owner complained to federal authorities that city inspectors were trying to extort money from him in the form of bribes. The FBI sent an undercover agent to pose as a club manager to investigate the city inspectors and build a case.

During the investigation, this agent encountered these two defendants. After accepting bribes, one of them asked the agent if he “needed help with anything else.” The agent asked him to move the fake drugs and ultimately paid the men $25,000 to transport 19 kilos of fake cocaine.

Although the agent apparently suggested the acts that ultimately led to the defendants’ convictions, these facts probably do not amount to entrapment. Entrapment generally occurs only if the government comes up with a criminal plan and encourages the defendant to go through with it. If the defendant was ready and willing to go along with a plan and required no encouragement, the government can usually give him or her an opportunity to do it.

This appears to be what happened in this case. The government did suggest that the defendant transport the fake drugs. But it did not have to encourage these defendants-they were apparently all too willing to take on the task for which they were convicted.

Source: Miami Herald, “Miami Beach firefighter, Miami-Dade cop guilty in sham cocaine trafficking case,” Jay Weaver and David Smiley, Oct. 10, 2012

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