Cocaine trafficking and cocaine possession used to be the largest problem facing South Florida in the 1980's and 1990's. However, cocaine is no longer the most serious problem in Miami-Dade and Broward County. Cocaine has been replaced by pills taking the form of prescription medications. A recent report revealed that there are more pain clinics in the pill dispensing business in Broward County than McDonald's restaurants. While pain killers are not illegal if prescribed by doctors, there are serious consequences for trafficking in or selling medications such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.
Due the addictive nature of the prescription medications, the minimum mandatory sentences for trafficking pain medications is the same as for heroine trafficking. Merely possessing one pill is a third degree felony punishable up to five years in prison. As the number of pain clinics have grown in South Florida, Miami criminal defense lawyers are finding themselves defending more and more of these types of cases. If some is charged with trafficking in oxycodone or hydrocodone, minimum mandatory prison sentences will attach. There are three levels of minimum mandatory penalties that apply to these types of cases. Possession of more than four, but less than 14 grams of either of these prescription drugs carries a 7 year minimum sentence. Possession of more than 14 grams, but less than 28 grams carries a 15 year minimum sentence. Possession of more than 28 grams carries a 25 year minimum sentence.
Within the last year Broward County was the home to 176 pain clinics dispensing prescription medications. Law enforcement has become aware that these clinics are handing out pills rather than sending people to pharmacies. Florida legislators have passed a law that was developed to track the sale of pain killers. The politicians passed the law due to the fact that death related to prescription medications keep rising every year. In fact, there are more deaths related to overdoses from prescription medications than from cocaine or heroine. While the tracking system in theory will work, no funds have been allocated to the program. While Broward County is mostly effected by the pain clinics, Palm Bach County has seen a recent influx of the pill dispensers. Simply put, the clinics appear to be moving north through the State of Florida.
As law enforcement steps up their efforts to close down the clinics, clinic owners, as well as the doctors prescribing the medications will be under strict scrutiny. If an individual is arrested for oxycodone trafficking, sale of oxycodone or oxycodone possession is imperative to hire an criminal defense law firm experienced in defending drug charges. If you are being investigated or has been arrested for any of the aforementioned offenses, remember to invoke your right to remain silent and seek the assistance of a criminal lawyer. By speaking to law enforcement officers, you will be limiting the types of defenses that can be used to beat your case.
Invasion of the Pill Mills in South Florida, Time.com, April 13, 2010