Local 10 reports that Broward Sheriff's deputies investigating a van parked across several spots in a Home Depot parking lot Friday morning discovered millions of dollars worth of marijuana in the back.
BSO said an anonymous caller contacted police to report that a van was taking up several parking spots at a Home Depot at 1951 S. State Road 7 in West Park, a Broward County community.
The deputies arrived and allegedly smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle, but when they looked through a window, all they could see was a blue tarp covering what appeared to be a large bundle.
K9's trained to detect drugs were taken to the scene, and they indicated there were drugs present. Police said they found 40 large bags of marijuana, worth an estimated $2.2 million retail, in the van.
BSO is investigating to determine how the drugs got there and who was responsible.
Due to the amount of suspect marijuana, this will likely become a case of trafficking in marijuana. Like all trafficking offenses in Florida, trafficking in marijuana (or cannabis) is punishable by up to 30 years in prison with mandatory minimum sentences applying depending on the weight.
The police will likely run the tag to see who the vehicle is registered to. However, that alone will not lead to an arrest and conviction. The police and prosecutors must prove that whoever was driving the van at the time the marijuana was present knew it was there.
It is possible that the owner of the van loaned it out to somebody who then used it for trafficking, or perhaps the van was stolen or had been recently sold for cash.
The police will likely try to get fingerprints off of the bundles. They may also check surveillance tapes from the parking lot.
So far, though, the storage of marijuana inside of a van is not enough to charge somebody unless knowledge of the presence of the drugs can be proven.
Remember folks, trafficking is based on weight. Not the intent to sell. Even if these bundles were intended for personal use (a year's supply for a very heavy smoker, let's assume), it is still trafficking because of the amount.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward. If you or a loved one are facing trafficking charges in Miami-Dade or Broward, call to speak to Eric Matheny.