Eleven people were arrested and approximately $24 million worth of cocaine and marijuana were seized as a result of a recent drug investigation in Palatka, Putnam County, Florida (which is about an hour south of Jacksonville, Florida), according to an article on Firstcoastnews.com. The cocaine and marijuana drug investigation involved local Putnam County police as well as officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to the article, the cocaine and marijuana as well as cash, vehicles and electronic equipment were stored in two houses on San Jose Avenue in East Palatka, Florida.
It is unclear from the article how they arrived at the $24 million dollar value for the drugs, but clearly this case involves a significant amount of drugs. In a case of this size with multiple law enforcement agencies and many defendants, there are likely to be several issues regarding to whom the police can actually attribute the illegal drugs. Widespread arrests such as these often involve people who may have little or no direct connection to the drugs in the hopes that the police can get incriminating statements from them, flip them as witnesses or somehow tie them to drugs found at a particular location.
It is not uncommon for police to use shaky evidence from unreliable co-defendants to try and incriminate others on whom the police have little to no evidence. This occurred in a recent ecstasy trafficking case involving a Shorstein & Lasnetski, LLC client. Once we uncovered the true nature of the alleged evidence and the unreliability of the state’s witnesses in that case, it was clear that the state could not prove their drug trafficking case against our client and the charges were dropped.