Over more than 16 years, an informant paid by the Justice Department helped the DEA in at least 280 drug cases. Starting in 1984, the man participated in investigations in 31 U.S. cities that led to hundreds of arrests and sent many people to prison. His work was highly profitable. The government paid him millions of dollars for his work. In the late 1990s, it was discovered that the informant had given false testimony under oath in 16 prosecutions. Defense lawyers had accused the man of a perjury in many cases, but the government continued to pay him for his services. Once the perjury was proven, the Drug Enforcement Administration finally deactivated him in 2000. Despite the pattern of lying, the DEA has chosen to re-hire the man.
In 2012, Mexico agreed to extradite Sandra Avila Beltran to the United States. Law enforcement officials believed that she was heavily involved in the trade of drugs from Mexico to the United States. She recently pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking offense in a federal court in Miami. She entered a guilty plea to a single count of being an accessory after the fact to a drug trafficking organization. That organization was previously led by the woman's ex-boyfriend and was credited with linking the Norte del Valle drug cartel in Columbia with the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. For the single count against her, Ms. Beltran could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. She could also face a fine of as much as $5 million. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for July.
Federal authorities often work closely with other countries to prosecute the "war on drugs." As part of these efforts, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy and other government offices have used a 1986 law to justify apprehending defendants in the territorial waters belonging to foreign countries. These defendants then face prosecution in the United States - often in Miami or other South Florida courts.
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.
International drug trafficking cases can be very complex and involve many different parties. Oftentimes, after large-scale investigations, federal prosecutors will bring extensive federal criminal charges against anyone who is suspected of being involved in a drug smuggling conspiracy.
Prior to Wednesday, a defendant could be convicted of a drug offense even if he or she did not knowingly sell or distribute drugs in Florida. But thanks to a recent ruling by a Florida federal judge, this should no longer be the case.
The practices Florida doctors and pharmacies may be leading to an increase in out of state residents in the criminal justice system. The so-called pill mills may be responsible for a rise in possession and drug trafficking charges leveled at residents of Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee and other nearby states. The proliferation of pain clinics and supposed ease of acquiring oxycodone and other painkillers and sedatives is accused of drawing a different kind of tourist to South Florida.
The federal government is targeting painkiller abuse in its latest efforts to combat drug crime in America. Federal drug trafficking officials have identified Florida as the top supplier in the nation. State officials are also stepping up their efforts to combat the so-called "pill mills."
One would not usually connect Valentine's Day with drug trafficking enforcement. However, the Valentine's Day season triggers an increase in the use of one drug enforcement method, shipment searches.
Law enforcement can be very aggressive in their pursuit of individuals suspected of federal drug crimes. This aggressiveness can continue long after an alleged crime occurred. This can be seen in the recent arrest of a 62-year-old Florida man who had allegedly been on the run ever since he was accused of crimes related to drug trafficking over 30 years ago.