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British Teen Found with Cocaine Faces Florida’s Strict Drug Penalties

On October 27th, a British teen was allegedly found with 30lbs of cocaine packed in her luggage at a Florida airport as she was entering the US. According to The Telegraph, the teen was told she now faces the rest of her life in prison for drug trafficking since she will be tried as an adult – she turned 18 three days after being arrested. The teen had arrived in Florida from Jamaica, and was attempting to catch a connecting flight to London, where US authorities believes she planned to sell the drugs. However, she was selected for a “secondary screening” by US Customs agents, at which time they state they found the cocaine packed into 24 cake mix boxes. The cocaine has an estimated street worth of more than $600,000. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle told The Telegraph, “This young woman had her 18th birthday in a foreign jail, far from her home and her family, because she thought she could smuggle almost 30 pounds of cocaine through Miami.” Fernández Rundle went on to say, “Sadly, she almost becomes a poster child for how easily the drug trade can corrupt our youth.” Drug Trafficking Penalties In Florida Unfortunately for this British teen, she is being charged in Florida, which has some of the harshest penalties for drug trafficking in the US – especially since they have chosen to charge her as an adult, which generally carries even longer prison sentences. In Florida, drug trafficking is punishable by a minimum of 15 years in prison, with a maximum of 65 years. It is a very serious crime, with very serious consequences, and as such should not be treated lightly. If charged with a drug related crime Florida, an experienced attorney can help protect your rights and advise you of your rights and options.

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Cocaine Use Declining in Florida

After being in vogue for over 25 years, cocaine use in Florida is declining. According to a report by James N. Hall, Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Substance Abuse at Nova Southeastern University, the number of cocaine-related overdoses and deaths in Florida has declined. Likewise, fewer people are seeking treatment for cocaine and crack addictions. But it is not because we are winning the war on drugs or because more drug users are becoming clean – cocaine use is declining primarily because, in tough economic times, many cannot afford to buy it. Cocaine was introduced in the United States in the 1970s, but the height of its use was in the 1980s and 1990s. Cocaine and crack cocaine were readily available and abuse was rampant. As cocaine use increased, so did law enforcement’s war on drugs. The war on drugs made it more difficult to obtain cocaine, thereby reducing the supply and making it more expensive. Increased police efforts have lead to more “cut” – or less pure cocaine – being on the market; so users are paying more but getting less. Recently, Florida’s unemployment rate has hovered between 10 and 12 percent, the housing market has collapsed and many Floridians have little disposable income. Cocaine, one of the priciest recreational drugs, is too expensive and more of a luxury drug in this economy. Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise While cocaine use is declining, the abuse of prescription drugs is increasing. Prescription drugs are easier to obtain and cheaper than cocaine. According to an article in the Miami Herald, of the 9,000 drug-related deaths reported in Florida in 2010, 6,090 of those included the use of benzodiazepines and Oxycodone. Here are some statistics from Hall’s report: In 2007, there were 281 cocaine-related deaths in Miami, while In 2009, that number fell to 155 deaths The number of ER visits related to cocaine overdoses declined 14 percent from 2008 and 2009 In 2009, 918 persons sought treatment for cocaine addiction, and in 2010, only 549 persons sought treatment In 2010, deaths from prescription drugs like Oxycodone increased 50 percent Cocaine and Florida are linked forever in pop culture because of TV shows like “Miami Vice” and movies such as “Scarface.” But with declining use of cocaine and increasing abuse of prescription drugs, it may be time for that image to change.

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State’s Prescription Fraud database launches Today

The State of Florida prescription drug database launches today.  This database is intened to combat the increase in prescription drug crimes such as prescription fraud or doctor shopping.  In a nutshell the law now requires pharmacies and dispensing physicians to upload information into the database within seven days of filling the prescription. The database will allow doctors and pharmacists to view your medical history and see if you are attempting to obtain the same prescription that a different doctor has already prescribed.  However, the doctors and pharmacists are not required to examine the database and it has yet to be seen whether or not they will do this voluntarily. As a criminal defense attorney I have seen an incredible increase in arrests for prescriptions drugs like oxycontin, xanax, and valium.  I am not sure if this database will lead to a decrease in use and abuse of these drugs or if it will simply give law enforcement another tool to target the addict who exhibits drug seeking behavior.  The database does not prevent the sale of durgs on the black-market nor does it stop the unscrupulous doctor from over prescribing this powerful medication.

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Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring

Today Florida will begin monitoring your prescriptions in an effort to deterdoctor shopping and physicians from overprescribing medication.  The legislation that led to the data base has been mired in controversy.  Advocates contend that it gives law enforcement the ability to monitor “pill mills” and is necessary to combat Florida’s growing prescription pill epidemic.  Those in opposition, including Gov. Scott prior to changing his mind, believe that the monitoring program violates patient privacy. Whichever side you come down on it is clear that Florida is serious about cracking down on prescription drug abuse.  Law enforcement at the Federal, State, and local level has made it clear that they are targeting the unlawful possession of prescription medication and those that obtain these drugs fraudulently.  Law enforcement now has the ability to expand their investigations into prescription drug fraud.

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Marijuana in the Mailbox: Orlando Oxycodone & Cocaine Trafficking

Florida’s “war on drugs” is something of a “cat and mouse” game. Law enforcement uncovers a new method of drug smuggling and uses its new-found knowledge to make as many busts as possible. However, the police are usually playing a game of “catch up,” as drug distributors find clever new ways to keep distribution channels open. The newest trend for Florida drug trafficking is to mail the marijuana, cocaine or oxycodone through the U.S. mail or private carriers such as FedEx or UPS. According to the Orlando Sentinel, 434 pounds cocaine was confiscated in Florida during the first half of 2011. This shows a sharp trend upwards from the 657 pounds of cocaine that were intercepted during last year as a whole. The cocaine is often mailed in packages of one or two kilos at a time. Broward County has been an especially heavy recipient of drugs through the mail. In 2010, authorities intercepted nearly 54,000 oxycodone pills and 13 kilos of cocaine, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. As Florida seeks to shut down “pill mill” pain clinics and other common distribution channels for oxycodone (oxycodine, oxycotine), Florida law enforcement may expect continued growth in the mailing of “pain-killer packages.” While it is especially difficult for authorities to arrest the sender of the packages, they have developed some sneaky ways of busting the would-be receiver. One North Lauderdale man signed for his package containing a kilo of cocaine, but the postal carrier was truly a disguised undercover agent who made an immediate arrest. As Florida law enforcement, prosecutors and judges continue to aggressively pursue those who allegedly smuggle and possess marijuana, cocaine and oxycodone, it is crucial for the accused to contact a reputable Orlando criminal defense attorney. With so much at stake, it is important to get a knowledgeable lawyer who can help you develop a strong defense to contest your drug charges.

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