Arrest at Orlando Airport for 38lbs of Meth Found in Suitcase
March 11, 2023 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Drug Charges Social Share
The state of Florida takes drug trafficking and distribution extremely seriously. We have previously written about the increase in cases involving dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine and fentanyl. The reality is that if you attempt to sell or distribute drugs in and out of Florida, you could face extremely harsh consequences. In one recent case, a California man was arrested after attempting to move over 30 pounds of meth into Florida.
This article will cover the case details, along with information on various drug charges in Florida.
What was the Case?
California native Michael Jayson Scarlett, 43, has been arrested at Orlando International Airport (MCO) over the weekend after law enforcement found around 38lbs of methamphetamine in his suitcase.
According to the report, Scarlett was stopped after agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation used a drug-sniffing dog to screen luggage coming from known areas of drug trafficking activity. As Scarlett’s gray suitcase came through from his inbound flight around 6:40 am, one of the dogs alerted the police.
The agents confronted Scarlett, whose name was on the luggage tag. When they questioned him about the suitcase, he first told them he was only visiting Orlando “while looking for work.” However, once he was in custody, Scarlett admitted, “he knew he messed up…and was in a lot of trouble.”
Scarlett then informed police about the man he referred to as “Chewy” who offered him $500 to transport the suitcase from Los Angeles International Airport to Orlando. Scarlett also admitted to successfully making the trip on two other occasions for the same payment.
According to the affidavit, Scarlett then told authorities that he had been in communication with “Chewy” and his other associates for the last few weeks. Chewy had been at the airport when the incident took place, and was allegedly waiting to give Scarlett directions on how to evade being caught if any agents were suspicious. Scarlett said he witnessed Chewy transporting pounds of meth in and out of Central Florida out of a storage unit just weeks earlier.
When police viewed Scarlett’s phone, there were texts to Chewy where Scarlett said he was concerned about a man in a blue hat who was hanging around the baggage claim. Chewy tried to tell Scarlett to grab someone else’s bag instead.
“If clear pretend to grab [the] wrong bag first then grab [yours],” read Chewy’s text.
It is unclear if police found or arrested Chewy, but Scarlett was being held at the Orange County Jail. He has since been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance
Florida law explains that it is a felony offense to distribute a controlled substance. The penalties for such offenses are severe but vary on multiple factors, including the controlled substance that was in the defendant’s possession, the amount of the controlled substance in the defendant’s possession, and the defendant’s prior criminal history.
Under Florida Statute Section 893.135, any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual possession of, 14 grams or more of amphetamine, methamphetamine, or any mixture containing other chemicals and equipment utilized in the manufacture of methamphetamine is considered “trafficking in amphetamine” and can be charged with a first-degree felony. In Florida, a first-degree felony has penalties of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years of imprisonment.
Drug Conspiracy Charges in Florida
Under Florida Statute 777.04, criminal conspiracy occurs when an individual agrees, conspires, combines, or confederates with another individual or multiple individuals to commit any criminal act.
This act must include two individuals agreeing to commit a criminal act. This agreement does not have to be oral, and a conviction can still occur even if only one party committed the crime that was the subject of the conspiracy.
In order for the State to prosecute someone for conspiracy to distribute, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant had agreed to distribute drugs to one or more persons, and at least one overt act was taken in the furtherance of the conspiracy. An “overt act” can include any action, no matter how small, that helps to further the goal of the conspiracy. This includes transporting drugs, purchasing drug-making equipment, or setting up drug distribution networks.
Under Florida Statute Section 777.04, the penalties for a conspiracy crime are ranked one level below the offense’s severity ranking for the actual criminal offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
Criminal offenses involving controlled substances are prosecuted harshly in Florida. In the last few years, Florida has seen an increase in the distribution of dangerous drugs, which has caused law enforcement to become even more strict in such cases. Due to the nature of the offense, it is likely that the State will prosecute those charged with distributing drugs to the highest sentencing. For that reason, it is especially important to work with a skilled Tallahassee drug charge defense attorney in your area.
Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys have years of experience working with individuals who have been accused of drug crimes. We understand how stressful navigating the legal world can seem. Our attorneys will strive to provide top-quality defense while ensuring none of your rights are violated. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm and receive a free consultation regarding your case. Call us at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website today.
Written by Karissa Key