The Sun Sentinel reports that a six-month Broward Sheriff's Office operation aimed at curtailing suspected drug activity in the Dania Beach area resulted in 80 people arrested. Additionally, BSO has allegedly obtained surveillance footage showing suspected drug sales to undercover deputies.
The sting was known as Operation Street Sweeper. Through this operation, BSO sent undercover officers out to purchase drugs in suspected "drug areas" of Dania Beach. The operation began in July of 2010 and recently concluded.
During the course of Operation Street Sweeper, BSO deputies seized 212 grams of crack and powder cocaine, 360 oxycodone pills, 121 Xanax pills, 132 grams of marijuana, 12 Ecstasy pills, as well as thousands of dollars in cash, firearms, and vehicles that were subject to forfeiture.
Stings like this one occur all of the time. In Broward, BSO conducts undercover buy and "reverse buy" - where the officer poses as the drug seller. In Miami-Dade, the Miami-Dade Police Department's TNT (Tactical Narcotics Team) conducts these operations as well.
The problem with these sting operations, however, is that a person's right to be free from unlawful search and seizure often becomes less important than "making the bust."
4th Amendment violations are common during these stings as officer focus primarily on volume. That is, trying to rack up as many arrests as possible.
If you are accused of trying to sell cocaine to an undercover cop, you will be charged with possession with intent to sell cocaine, which is a second-degree felony.
If you are suspected of being in possession of trafficking amounts of drugs, you could be charged with crimes that carry mandatory prison time.
If you or a loved one happen to get caught up in a sting operation, don't panic. Invoke your rights, don't speak to the police without first consulting a criminal defense attorney, and prepare to fight your charges.
Prosecutors make be shoving plea bargains down your throat. That's because it looks good for our elected State Attorneys to have high conviction rates. A conviction doesn't have to come at trial. A conviction can be an adjudication resulting from a guilty plea. But remember - a guilty plea to a drug sale charge will result in your driver's license being suspended for 2 years. It may also result in prison time and a lifelong felony conviction.
There may be issues in your case that can lead to the case itself being dismissed. The fact that you were arrested and accused of a crime is not enough to convict you. The law requires police to follow strict protocol regarding the search and seizure of a person and their belongings. If they fail to follow protocol, their error may greatly benefit you.
I am a criminal lawyer and former Miami-Dade prosecutor with experience in representing clients charged with drug offenses. Call me today to discuss your case.