JSO RELEASES DETAILS OF MONTH LONG DRUG OPERATION
A recent News4Jax report gives details into a four month operation in the Oceanway area of Jacksonville’s Northside. The operation targeted narcotics violations ranging from simple misdemeanors up through first degree felony drug trafficking charges. The operation was nicknamed “Lockdown in O-Town.” Sheriff Williams stated the operation was a result of several complaints from residents of drug activity in the Northside area of town.
Williams stated that the investigations focused JSO undercovers on four areas in which narcotics detectives even spent nights sleeping in hotels on Dunn Avenue to build relationships with known drug dealers in the neighborhood. The narcotics purchased or seized by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office included methamphetamine, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, several different forms of prescriptions pills, and marijuana. Four structures were condemned by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office DART team. One structure was a methamphetamine laboratory. Motor Vehicles and other property were seized and will be handled by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office forfeiture unit. Sheriff Williams stated in what must clearly be taken out of context that all of these individuals were predators taking advantage of addiction and that these people were arrested for dealing. The press release contained several mugshots of those arrested as well as their charges. Several people were not arrested for dealing, in fact several were arrested for simple possession, one man even for Resisting Arrest Without Violence, a first degree misdemeanor. Perhaps the individual resisting arrest was a drug dealer, perhaps not, however the Sheriff certainly labeled the entire operation as a bunch of dealers. The point of the press conference is certainly showing the public that we, the police, took these 60 drug dealers of the street, however a review of the cases sheds different light on what actually happened.
REVIEW OF SOME OF THE CASES
Since Florida has a very broad and open book policy on Public Records any citizen can access information regarding what actually happened in these cases, at least from reports generated by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
One man arrested, Clifford Williams, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested back on December 6, 2016. In first appearance court he plead no contest, and was released based on time he had already served and assessed court fines. Clearly, this is not an individual targeted in this large scale multi month operation; however, in the ever apparent numbers game, Mr. Williams name and mugshot have been added to the press release.
Amber Lambert was arrested on December 6, 2016 for four counts of possession of a controlled substance (third degree felony) and one count of possession of paraphernalia (first degree misdemeanor). A review of her arrest report shows Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant and located Lambert and a co-defendant in a room along with Heroin, Fentynol, Cocaine, Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine), and drug paraphernalia. Lambert and the co-defendant denied any knowledge of the narcotics found. Lambert’s case was dropped by the State Attorney’s Office on December 28, 2016. The likely legal issue in Lambert’s case is how could the State of Florida prove Lambert’s knowledge of the illegal narcotics located by the Sheriff’s Office. Based on the arrest report, JSO would not be able to prove possession of any of the narcotics in regards to Lambert. The co-defendant’s case remains open at this time. The difference in the co-defendant’s case may be the basis for the search warrant. Often times narcotics detectives purchase drugs from a house over a period of time. From there they will apply for a search warrant to raid the home of the drug dealer. If narcotics detectives have previously purchased drugs from an individual it can be used as knowledge of the presence of illegal drugs at the time the search warrant is issued. The co-defendant’s arrest report is not currently available, so it is unclear what theory the State of Florida is proceeding under at this time. Continue reading