Uber Driver Sold Mushrooms to Undercover Police

March 19, 2024 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges, News & Announcements

Attempting to sell controlled substances can result in serious legal implications—especially when the potential clients are undercover police officers. A recent case from Walton County showed the rising increase in cases involving psilocybin or “magic mushrooms” after an Uber driver was alleged to have sold them hallucinogens while driving them to an annual Narcotics Officers event.

This blog post will cover the case details out of Walton County along with the resulting penalties for a person accused of possessing, possessing with the intent to sell, and drug trafficking of mushrooms and LSD.

Case Details

Law enforcement in Walton County apprehended an Uber driver who attempted to sell them psychedelics while riding in his car.

According to the press release, the Florida Narcotics Officers’ Association Annual Conference was taking place in Miramar Beach in August 2023. While on their way to attend a conference dinner, investigators with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) took an Uber ride from a 52-year-old local from Crestview.

Their Uber driver allegedly smelled of marijuana when the (off-duty) officers entered the vehicle, and after talking for several minutes the driver informed the passengers that he had Psilocybin mushrooms for sale. The driver then proceeded to reveal a large bag of mushrooms from inside his glove department, to which the passengers declined.

The CCSO officers who were passengers to the Uber contacted the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) VICE/Narcotics Investigators who were attending the conference. The officers planned to conduct an undercover drug purchase from the same Uber driver.

The following day, the CCSO investigators purchased $1,000 worth of drugs from the Uber driver, including 134 grams of Psilocybin mushrooms, 10 Psilocybin mushroom capsules, and 12 doses of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD). The Uber driver informed them he would be open to mailing supply as well.

Over the next several months the CCSO worked in collaboration with WCSO to remain in contact with the Uber driver. Their investigative work found that the driver operated services from Destin to Panama City Beach, Florida. The undercover officers informed the Uber driver they would be back to visit in February and would like to purchase more drugs upon their return.

An undercover detective reached out to the Uber driver again on February 21, 2024, to organize a purchase of 200 doses of LSD and over a quarter pound of mushrooms for $5,000. Surveillance was set up at the Uber driver’s Crestview residence where he was seen leaving his residence for the drug exchange with the undercover CCSO detective.

A deputy with WCSO conducted a traffic stop near the designated meeting area, where the Uber driver was arrested under a warrant from the first undercover purchase. The deputy, along with a drug K9, found and seized the illegal mushrooms and LSD that was intended for the sale. The suspect was booked into the Walton County Jail on two counts of selling a hallucinogen, trafficking in LSD, possession of a hallucinogen with the intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of using a two-way communication device in the commission of a felony.

Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson provided the following statement:

“While these types of cases aren’t the primary focus of our VICE/Narcotics investigations, this one kind came to us. He obviously makes it a habit to sell while driving an Uber and that’s pretty alarming considering how teenagers and young adults frequently use driving services in the area.”

Penalties for Possession of Psilocybin with the Intent to Sell

Psilocybin, also referred to as “magic mushrooms,” is considered a Schedule I substance on Florida’s Drug Schedule.

A person alleged to have psilocybin in their actual or constructive possession faces a third-degree felony under the Possession of a Controlled Substance. That means just having any amount of a magic mushroom or LSD tab can result in this charge.

The penalties are more severe for a person accused of possessing psilocybin or LSD that exceeds the threshold for being considered Possession with the Intent to Sell. Controlled substances on the Drug Schedule have specific quantity thresholds where if met or exceeded, the suspect can face the enhanced criminal charge. Under Florida Statute Section 893.13, a person accused of selling, manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with the intent to sell psilocybin faces a third-degree felony.

  • If the suspect is caught trying to sell psilocybin or LSD within 1,000 feet of any of the following locations, it can result in them being charged with a second-degree felony:
    • Childcare facility;
    • Elementary school;
    • Middle school;
    • Secondary school;
    • State, county, or municipal park;
    • College, university, or postsecondary educational institution;
    • Church or religious place of worship;
    • Public housing facility; or
    • Mental health facility.

If the quantity of psilocybin exceeds a larger threshold, the suspect can be charged with Drug Trafficking psilocybin or LSD. Under Florida Statute Section 893.135, any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or is in actual or constructive possession of 1 gram or more of LSD or any mixture containing LSD can be charged with a first-degree felony. A person convicted of Trafficking in Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) faces the following penalties based on its quantity:

  • Defendant with 1 gram or more, but less than 5 grams of LSD – Faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three (3) years in prison and a fine of $50,000;
  • Defendant with 5 grams or more, but less than 7 grams of LSD – Faces a mandatory minimum sentence of seven (7) years in prison and a fine of $100,000; and
  • Defendant with 7 grams or more of LSD – Faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

The penalties for each degree of offense are listed below:

  • A third-degree felony conviction carries up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
  • A second-degree felony conviction carries up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
  • A first-degree felony conviction carries up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Important: Any defendant that is accused of knowingly manufacturing or brining into Florida 7 grams or more of LSD, or any mixture containing 7 grams or more of LSD, and who would know the probable result of such manufacture or importation would be the death of any person can be charged with a capital felony punishable by life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty.

Are There Defenses to a Drug Charge in North Florida?

Yes. Even if you have already been booked for a drug charge in Bay County, Leon County, or the surrounding areas of the Florida Panhandle, there still may be defense strategies available to fight off a conviction. The most important thing you can do for your case is hiring a defense attorney who can accurately analyze your case and review if any defenses can apply. Defenses to a psilocybin drug charge include, but are not limited to:

  • Unlawful search and seizure – Any mushrooms or LSD found through illegal means, such as a police officer searching a person or their property without a warrant, could be challenged as unlawful search and seizure to make the substances inadmissible as evidence.
  • Entrapment If a law enforcement officer coerced the defendant to commit a drug crime they wouldn’t have otherwise committed, their attorney can argue that the case involved entrapment.
  • Lack of constructive possession – In some cases, the police may claim a defendant was in constructive possession of mushrooms or LSD if it is found in a secure place in their home or somewhere else they frequent. However, if the defendant had no knowledge that the substances were in a place that they shared access to one with one or more persons, a defense attorney can challenge the “constructive possession” element.

Consider consulting with a legal expert at Pumphrey Law to determine which defenses can best help your case.

Contact Pumphrey Law Firm

Being placed under arrest for an alleged drug crime is an understandably scary experience. When you’ve had all the charges and potential penalties laid out in front of you, the possibility of a criminal conviction may feel imminent. However, with the right legal defense, you can challenge the evidence against you and fight to have the charges lessened to a lower offense or dismissed altogether.

The Tallahassee criminal defense lawyers with Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of combined experience representing those across the Florida Panhandle who have been wrongfully accused of a crime. Contact our office today at (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message to schedule a free consultation.

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