Drug offense investigations by state or federal authorities often culminate in a widespread, well-publicized roundup of alleged suspects. Whether an arrest from a drug sweep will ultimately deliver a conviction for drug sales is another matter. A police department's attempt to find and arrest a large number of suspects in one fell swoop can be riddled with unexpected complications.
That kind of a dragnet was initiated in one Florida city recently when police announced that they were seeking 44 individuals on drug charges. The announcement was the result of a four-month investigation by authorities. They indicated that the investigation centered on the sales of a variety of illegal substances, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, Xanax and hydrocodone.
By the middle of the day after the announcement, the St. Petersburg police had arrested 17 people on drug charges, ranging in age from 20 through 53. Only eight people in that group were originally targeted in the sweep. Nine others were arrested for unspecified violations allegedly detected by police as they apprehended their targeted subjects.
The St. Petersburg police did not immediately reveal details of the drug charges or identify any particular drug sale that had occurred. Police said that getting information on the possession and sales of firearms was also a goal in the investigation. They did not, however, give any facts or allegations that pointed to firearms use by any of the suspected drug dealers.
In Florida as elsewhere, the use of a pervasive community-wide net to catch suspected drug offenders carries dangers and limitations. There are increased chances of misidentification. A person in the wrong place at the wrong time could be wrongly arrested. The prospects of a drug conviction under these circumstances can be problematic for the authorities, especially if they've acted on incomplete or mistaken information. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help an accused individual determine his or her rights and options.
Source: Tampa Bay Times, "St. Petersburg police round up suspected drug dealers, including son of School Board member," Times Staff, Jan. 12, 2013