Orange County Jail’s Fentanyl Trafficking Scheme
April 11, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Drug Charges Social Share
A year ago this month, defendant Steven Albers was put in jail for bond violation after his conviction of aggravated assault. His criminal streak has not ended as authorities report he and his partner, Marshawn Barnes, were running a fentanyl trafficking operation from inside the jail. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the full story, the penalties, and how we can help with trafficking charges.
Albers and Barnes are reportedly both part of a group, “Gangster Disciples,” a prison gang formed in Chicago. They are now two of sixteen individuals involved in the scheme which involved trafficking drugs like cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl throughout Central Florida. Barnes also trafficked drugs from Arizona using the postal system. To read more about the law and subsequent penalties for sending or receiving drugs through the mail, visit our blog here.
The sting to reveal this operation, Operation Icarus, resulted in thirteen of the individuals getting arrested. Five of the individuals are facing racketeering charges. Three of the individuals are facing charges for smuggling into a correctional facility. The rest are charged with other trafficking offenses for moving heroin and cocaine.
The operation concluded in February and the bulk of the arrests occurred in December. The arrests were just announced but law enforcement is still locating the rest of the suspects.
Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation Director, Ron Stucker, told reported that the investigators believe that “at the height of their operation, Albers and Raimondi and their organization were bringing up to 12,000 pressed fentanyl pills a month into Central Florida.”
A Persistent Problem
Louis Quiñones, the Orange County Corrections Chief, reports that smuggling problems are prevalent and are only getting worse. The continued opioid crisis in the United States mixed with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding fentanyl makes this issue difficult to tackle. To read about Florida’s tireless problem with fentanyl-laced marijuana, visit our blog here. Furthermore, to read about Florida’s attempt to combat fentanyl and the tragedies it brings forth through the legalization of fentanyl test strips, visit our blog here.
Trafficking Fentanyl Penalties
House Bill 477 and Florida Statute Section 893.135 provide mandatory minimum penalties for those convicted of trafficking fentanyl. These punishments are severe:
- Trafficking 4 – 13 Grams of Fentanyl
Florida judges are required to issue a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years imprisonment and fines up to $50,000.
- Trafficking 14 – 28 Grams of Fentanyl
Florida judges are required to issue a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and fines up to $100,000.
- Trafficking more than 28 Grams of Fentanyl
Florida judges are required to issue a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and fines up to $500,000.
The offense is classified as a first-degree felony and is assigned either a level 8 or 9 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.
Fentanyl is now included in Florida’s murder statute, meaning that someone selling the substance can be convicted of homicide if the person suffers a fatal overdose. To read more about this, visit our blog post here.
Driver’s License Suspension
Under Florida Statute Section 322.055, anyone convicted of trafficking fentanyl will have their license suspended for six months.
Professional License Suspension
Under Florida Statute Section 893.11, anyone convicted of trafficking fentanyl will have their professional license issued by the State of Florida suspended.
Trafficking Fentanyl Defenses
Trafficking fentanyl is a serious offense punishable by high fines and long periods of incarceration. However, there are defenses available to combat such charges:
If an undercover law enforcement officer or a confidential informant induces you to commit a crime that you would otherwise not be likely to commit, the court may dismiss the charges against you.
If law enforcement conducts an illegal search or seizure, a motion to suppress can be filed, and if the motion is successful the court will suppress the obtained evidence as a Fourth Amendment violation. To learn more about Fourth Amendment violations, read our blog post here.
Though not a defense technically, this can be an excellent method of avoiding the mandatory minimum sentences outlined above. The state attorney may ask the court to depart from the mandatory minimum or suspend the sentence of someone convicted of trafficking if the defendant gives substantial assistance to the state in identifying, arresting, or convicting other people involved with the trafficking.
Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney
Hiring an experienced drug attorney in Tallahassee is extremely important if you have been charged with a Florida drug offense. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have knowledge of Florida’s drug laws and have successfully defended various drug charges. Don Pumphrey and his team have years of experience representing those facing misdemeanor drug charges, felony drug charges, and even federal drug offenses. They are dedicated to defending the rights of clients, and they will fight to get the best possible outcome in your case. Pumphrey Law represents adults and juveniles facing charges for drug crimes in Florida. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today to discuss your defense options during an open and free consultation with our legal team.
Written by Gabi D’Esposito