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Drug Trafficking in Florida


A former chemist was arrested in Florida last month after local police discovered that he had been switching out over-the-counter medicine with prescription drugs that were being held as evidence, criminal defense lawyers in Seminole County report. Joseph Graves has been charged with grand theft, tampering with evidence, and drug trafficking, in an investigation that police say could change the status of several drug convictions across the state. 

In his capacity as a chemist working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Graves worked over 2,500 cases in 35 Florida counties, and 12 judicial circuits, over the past eight years. He used his access to official evidence to steal prescription drugs seized by the police, and replace them with nearly identical over-the-counter pills. He then sold the prescription drugs for profit. Authorities began an investigation after learning that several pain pills had gone missing and discovering a link between the cases Graves had worked and several missing drugs. 

Drug trafficking crimes and penalties are determined by weight, criminal defense lawyers in Seminole County say. Florida Statute 893.135 outlines the drugs that have been listed as illegal substances in the state, and the penalties for possession and sale of these drugs, are based according to the weight of the drug found. For example, anyone caught with over 25 pounds—or 300 or more plants—of marijuana can be charged with drug trafficking and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in jail. Getting caught with 2,000 pounds of marijuana leads to a seven-year minimum sentence, and 10,000 pounds or more leads to 15 years of minimum mandatory jail time. 

Other drugs outlined in this Florida statute include cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP or angel dust), oxycodone, hydrocodone, opium, methaqualone, crystal meth, LSD, and GHB, to name a few of the most popular. Each drug is categorized by weight and corresponding mandatory minimum jail sentence. Even if you are only a recreational user, and do not sell or deal drugs, you can be charged with drug trafficking if you are caught with an illegal amount of one of these substances. Most of the mandatory penalties are severe, even for the smaller amounts that can justify a criminal trafficking charge. For example, getting caught with 30+ kilograms of oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, opium, or hydromorphone carries a mandatory minimum life sentence, as does a conviction resulting from 150+ kilogram possession of cocaine. 

Criminal defense lawyers in Seminole County report that Graves’ jail time will likely be determined by the type and amount of prescription drugs he stole. Once the investigation can uncover which pills were switched out, and trace their path from evidence hold to the streets of Florida, several recent drug convictions may need a closer look, if people have been charged with possession for purchasing what they believed to be prescriptions from a licensed chemist. 

At the Law Offices of Ryan N. Yadav, LLC, our criminal defense lawyers represent persons in Seminole County, Sanford, and the surrounding areas who have been charged with drug crimes, including drug trafficking. Although the penalties for drug trafficking crimes are severe, a good criminal defense lawyer can work to reduce jail time and defend your actions, especially if your trafficking conviction is based on possession amount. Contact Ryan Yadav for a free, no-strings consultation today.