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Broward County city makes millions in drug trafficking arrests

Drug trafficking charges are among the most serious criminal charges a person can face in Florida. If convicted, the accused can be looking at years in prison. In addition, police are entitled under forfeiture laws to sieze any property connected with the alleged crime-including guns, cash and cars. One Florida city has been raking in millions annually on such forfeitures-and some say the city is setting up people who would not otherwise have been predisposed to sell drugs.

The city of Sunrise, in western Broward County, has been running reverse sting operations to lure potential drug dealers to the town from as far away as New York, nine other states outside Florida, and several Florida counties. In a typical sting operation, cops pose as drug buyers. In a reverse sting, they pose as sellers. To persuade buyers to come to Sunrise to make a deal, Sunrise cops offer hard-to-resist discounts. The deal has to take place in Sunrise for the local cops to have jurisdiction.

But some say the city's tactics go too far. According to a defense attorney, one man was set up by a police informant who knew the man had lost his job and was down on his luck. Sunrise police allegedly offered to advance the man $200,000 worth of cocaine in return for all the money the man could borrow: $19,000. The man was arrested; the police siezed the $19,000.

In cases like this an entrapment defense could be successful. Entrapment occurs when police persuade a person to commit a crime when they are not predisposed to do so. The targeting of a financially distressed individual with too-good-to-be-true financial offers is a good example of entrapment. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise a person arrested on drug charges, review the arrest record, and prepare the best possible defense.

Source: Sun-Sentinel, "Cops, Cash, Cocaine: How Sunrise police make millions selling drugs," Megan O'Matz & John Maines, Oct. 4, 2013

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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