Thirty-two people arrested in St. Johns County meth lab investigation

June 19, 2013

A massive investigation into St. Johns County meth labs resulted in 32 arrests last week and police say dozens more could be charged in the criminal drug operation. Police dubbed their 18-month investigation "Operation Ancient Brewers" and last week picked up nearly three dozen people on charges of either conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine or conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Police have St. Johns County warrants for 11 other people and said there could be as many as 200 people involved, according to a television report from News4Jax.

Conspiracy to manufacture meth in Florida is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison, while charges related to selling meth can be first-degree felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The police investigation in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes case uncovered three meth labs throughout the county. Police used the logs kept in local pharmacies to track people who have been purchasing medications with pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used to make meth, the television station reported. In 2006, as part of the Patriot Act, a federal law was enacted to require all pharmacies to move over-the-counter medication with pseudoephedrine behind the counter. The law also requires people to show identification and provide a signature when they are purchasing the medications, which are common cough, cold and allergy medications that do not require a prescription.

The logs can be a potential gold mine for police, and appeared to be one of the foundations of this St. Johns County Drug Crimes investigation. Police analyzed records and targeted people who appeared to be signing for large amounts of the medication. As with many St. Johns County Drug Crimes investigations, police are likely trying to identify and build a case against the people leading the operation. Many of the people arrested last week are likely to receive offers to negotiate and many could have charges reduced or adjudication withheld for cooperating with the investigation. In many St. Johns County Drug Crimes cases, charges can be used as a way to influence people to provide information about the drug ring. It's also possible that some of the people arrested were buying the decongestants for completely legitimate purposes when they did not feel well. Defendants could then be in the position of having to prove their innocence, perhaps through doctor's notes or employment records.

Meth charges carry very serious penalties, including minimum mandatory sentences, should the state choose to pursue them. Charges for making meth are also enhanced if there are children living in the home or apartment because the fumes emitted during the cooking process are toxic. All of these factors put the best cards in the state's hand for these St. Johns County Drug Cases, often leaving defendants feeling they don't have many options in resolving their case. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged in drug conspiracy cases - from the people near the top to the suspects accused of minor roles. Each case is different in terms of a defense strategy and our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney can examine the case of you or your loved one and help you make the best decision going forward.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.