This particular Sun-Sentinel article (published July 20, 2010, written by Sofia Santana) deals with a mass arrest of suspected cocaine dealers in Broward County.
Eight indicted, arrested on charges of dealing cocaine in Broward
Federal authorities on Monday arrested seven men and one woman on charges they were involved in dealing cocaine in southeastern Broward County.
The group did most of its dealing in the Carver Ranches area, which encompasses the north end of the town of West Park, authorities said.
A grand jury indicted the eight on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine . Each could face up to life in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
Those arrested were Kevin Johnson, of Miramar; Desmond Bullock, of West Park; Odis Lumpkin, of Miami; Travis Baker, of Miami Gardens; and Christopher Grayson, Jonathan Witherspoon, Jasmine Simmons and Charles Bernard Walker, all of Hollywood.
The FBI, Fort Lauderdale police, Broward Sheriff's Office, and Hollywood police investigated.
While this article deals with the sale of cocaine as a federal offense, cocaine possession, sales, and trafficking in cocaine encompass a significant percentage of both Miami-Dade County and Broward County prosecutions.
It's no secret that South Florida serves as a portal to the nation's drug trade. In response to this, law enforcement has dedicated resources to catching suspected cocaine sellers and traffickers through the use of surveillance, confidential informants, and sting operations.
While possession of cocaine and possession with intent to sell cocaine do not carry mandatory minimum sentences , sale of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school and trafficking in cocaine both carry mandatory prison time.
I have experience with cocaine cases, both as a former prosecutor in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, and as a criminal defense attorney who represents clients in Miami-Dade and Broward.
Cocaine is always treated as a felony , unlike marijuana which is considered a misdemeanor if the possession amount is less than 20 grams. Any amount of cocaine, even the residue left inside of a baggie, can be considered felony possession.
Regarding sale of cocaine, this charge comes from the facts of the case, not necessarily the weight of the drugs. If an officer alleged that he or she saw you sell, or perhaps it is alleged that you sold to an undercover cop, then the charge of possession with intent to sell will be filed.
Also, the packaging of the drugs (separate baggies), the paraphernalia found (scales, baggies), and/or large amounts of cash can cause an officer, and the State Attorney's Office, to file possession with intent to sell.
With trafficking, this serious felony charge always depends on the weight of the drugs. You do not need to actually sell or transport drugs in order to be charged with trafficking. Simply possessing 28 or more grams of cocaine will cause you to be charged with trafficking.
Cocaine crimes are serious. Even simple possession-level charges carry maximum prison sentences of 5 years. And if you are convicted of possession of cocaine (even if the sentence is just credit for time served), Florida law mandates that you driver's license be suspended for 2 years!
If you or a loved one have been charged with a cocaine-related offense, call me today.