The flow of contraband through the Florida Keys was interrupted over the weekend when a large task force of police, immigration officers and drug agents set up checkpoints along U.S. 1 that turned up a cache of cocaine as well as shark meat, two sailfish and $5,000 worth of whole lobster.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, 151 traffic stops were made Friday, with agents issuing 84 citations.
On the first stop of the night, a drug-sniffing dog named Deja helped sheriff's detectives find 139 grams of crack cocaine, 87 grams of powder cocaine, 12 grams of marijuana, 5 Xanax pills, and $2,047 in cash that may be from drug sales.
Three Keys construction workers in the vehicle were arrested. Thomas Council, 41, and Howie Schnieder, 22, were charged with trafficking in cocaine, while Patrick Stickney, 22, was charged with possession of marijuana. All three were booked into the Monroe County Jail.
In another stop, agents with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission searched two trucks that contained over 300 pounds of shark meat, two sailfish and the lobsters. The investigation into the seafood continues.
During the operation, radiographic imaging was used to help search vehicles for hidden compartments containing contraband, according to Monroe County Sheriff's Sgt. Alberto Ramirez.
Also taking part in the interdiction effort were officers from the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Transportation, the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Trafficking is a very serious criminal offense in Florida. All narcotics trafficking charges carry mandatory minimum sentences.
Remember, trafficking is not based on transporting, selling, or manufacturing controlled substances. It is based on the weight of the substance. That means, you can be charged with trafficking just for being in possession of a controlled substance.