An FBI investigation led to the arrest of at least fifteen prison guards involved in marijuana trafficking and cocaine trafficking. The guards were involved in moving cocaine and marijuana from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach County. "Operation Blind Justice" focused in on two South Florida correctional facilities. Eleven corrections officers from Glades Correctional Institute and four corrections officers from South Bay Correctional Institute were arrested by federal authorities. Undoubtedly, the arrested correctional officers will seek to retain Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami criminal defense lawyers to defend the serious charges. The investigation began when a former warden provided information in 2007 to the Florida Department of Correctional Inspector General's Office. After a 26 month investigations, the feds moved in and made the arrests.
A spokesman from FBI reported that the group of correctional officers created their own marijuana and cocaine trafficking ring. The guards believed they were working for major drug traffickers, but in reality they were moving marijuana and cocaine provided to them by FBI agents. The correctional officers agreed to use their badges to protect the shipments that were being transported. They allegedly guarded nine shipments and received payments in excess of $150,000.00. The guards were also selling a steady supply of marijuana and cocaine to inmates. Some of the prison guards worked for the Florida Department of Corrections up to twelve years.
The defendants will be indicted in federal court for cocaine trafficking, marijuana trafficking, bribery and unlawful compensation charges. It is unclear whether the defendants will face charges in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County. For years, correctional officers have been arrested and charged both in state and federal court. However, the other criminal investigations involving correctional officers are dwarfed by the size of this criminal organization. The sad part is that the correctional officers sell the drug to the inmates who then get caught and get charged with additional charges such as marijuana possession and illegal importation of drugs into a correctional facility. Offenses such as these can cause inmates to lose their gain time.
The reports regarding the drug trafficking organization do not set forth the amount of narcotics being moved from West Palm Beach to Miami. The amount of drugs being trafficked is essential in determining the amount of time the corrections officers are facing in federal prison. The federal sentencing guidelines consider the type and weight of the drug to determine the guideline range which the court will use to sentence the defendants. If you or anyone you know is arrested for drug trafficking charges it is essential to retain an experienced criminal lawyer to defend the case.
FBI Busts prison Guard Drug Ring, NBC Miami.com, February 11, 2010.