When people think about Orlando, they don't usually associate "The City Beautiful" with cocaine use and the illegal drug trade. However, with its tourism and proximity to Miami, Orlando has been a gateway point for cocaine trafficking, with its own unique stories. For example, in more than one case, cocaine has been traded for counterfeit Disney World tickets.
According to a recent Orlando Sentinel story, two brothers who owned an Orlando taxi service traded 5,000 counterfeit Walt Disney World tickets for 11 pounds of cocaine, reports the Orlando Sentinel. It’s not the only time the theme park’s passes were used for cocaine currency, as agents in 2014 made a bust involving the trade of 20 fake Disney World passes for an ounce of cocaine.
In another recent case, the DEA seized 16 kilograms of cocaine, heroin, $200,000 in cash, and a quarter-million-dollar sports car during a bust of an Orlando-to-Miami crime ring.
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Cocaine was made illegal through the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act, and federal penalties were further clarified in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. Since then, the drug has been at the center of a worldwide illegal drug trade. Florida law allows for serious jail time for those convicted of cocaine-related charges. Possession of cocaine can be a third-degree felony, carrying a 5-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. Selling the substance can lead to a second-degree felony charge, and upon conviction, a 15-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Those caught with more than 28 grams of cocaine are charged with drug trafficking, a first-degree felony with an automatic prison sentence ranging from three years to life.
Cocaine can be so powerfully addictive that simply showing former users images of cocaine use can bring out strong desires to use the drug again, making it difficult for former users to stay clean. Cocaine’s worst damage comes with prolonged use, which takes not only a physical toll on the user’s body, but increases feelings of paranoia and aggression as well.
Cocaine gives users an immediate euphoric feeling and a jolt of energy way more intense than any legal drug, such as alcohol or caffeine. The primary way that cocaine affects the body is through increased blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate.
But cocaine's boost comes at a price. A user can end up constricting arteries supplying blood to the heart, potentially causing chest pain, heart attacks and stroke. Cocaine is also thought to age the brain and cause depression, especially when the drug is no longer available. Cocaine can also harm the liver, kidney and gastrointestinal system.
Prosecutors usually try to prove that a defendant possessed cocaine and had control of it, or "constructive possession”, whereby the cocaine was found in an area the defendant controlled. As such, a defendant can be charged with possession even if he or she never physically handled to the substance.
Defending a cocaine charge often involves proving that the defendant was not in control of the substance, or simply had no knowledge of it.
If you or someone you know is facing cocaine possession or trafficking charges, contact our law firm today to discuss your case.