Our Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers understand the case started back in August, but didn’t result in arrests until late last month.
It will be interesting in this case to see whether defense attorneys will try to suppress evidence obtained during the initial search of the premises, as there was no warrant. Under the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree doctrine, all evidence obtained during an illegal search or interrogation may be deemed inadmissible in court. This means not just the evidence obtained in the search or interrogation, but anything discovered as a result.
In this case, the detectives reported they were responding to a burglary at a warehouse just west of Boca Raton. The detectives then entered the warehouse. They did not find any burglars, but they did find evidence of a drug manufacturing operation. Media reports don’t indicate who owned the warehouse and whether he or she was the one to call authorities. That could be a crucial point because if he or she did not grant permission to enter the premises, the contents of that initial search could be suppressed.
Once detectives found evidence that individuals were making and packaging synthetic marijuana, they went back to a judge to obtain a formal search warrant for the property.
They then returned in short order and searched the property again, finding six-foot tall bins with clear baggies marked with a label that said “cannabinoid free.” Although the labels indicated the product was potpourri, the detective stated in the affidavit that from his experience, potpourri products don’t typically contain such a warning.
Investigators also found a machine that is typically used for sealing packets. The packets were labeled with titles such as “Strawberry Blast,” “Voodoo” and “Da Bomb.” In all, there were some 235 pounds of the substance confiscated from the search.
Detectives sent samples of the contents of those packets, with the tests coming back positive for synthetic marijuana.
Perhaps most damning were the contents of more than a dozen spiral notebooks found on the scene. There were notes allegedly addressed to each defendant, invoices and transaction logs. There were also copies of the defendants’ driver’s licenses, which led detectives right to their door.
Sale of synthetic marijuana and other substances have already been specifically banned by officials in Broward County. Leaders in Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County are mulling similar measures. In Broward, punishment for violation of the county ordinance is a $500 fine and two months in jail. But that measure primarily applies to shop owners who are selling the substance.
Manufacturing of it comes with harsher penalties. Florida Statute 893.13 states that it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, sell or posses with intent to sell, any controlled substance. To do so, the law states, is a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years of incarceration.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
West Boca burglary leads to major drug bust, deputies say, Oct. 26, 2012, By Ed Komenda, Sun Sentinel
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U.S. v. Johnson: Sentencing Enhancements Require Additional Evidence , Oct. 15, 2012, Palm Beach County Criminal Defense Lawyer