The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is among the most law enforcement agencies operating in Florida and across the United States. This federal agency’s goal is to stop the distribution and smuggling of drugs everywhere in the country by targeting drug traffickers and their operations. The DEA enforces the Controlled Substances Act as well as investigation of high-level domestic and international narcotics traffickers. DEA agents have the legal authority to perform unannounced raids on most homes and businesses with the assistance of state and local task forces.
In recent years, as the opioid epidemic has worsened, the DEA has increasingly targeted pain clinics, pharmacies, and other locations where controlled substances are sold to patients. This has led to investigations and criminal charges against health care practitioners for health care fraud and alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act. Pharmacies and clinics in Florida have been subject to increasing crackdowns and DEA raids due to suspected connections to drug trafficking and “pill mills”.
Health care providers that prescribe controlled substances (Schedule II to Schedule IV) are required to comply with strict state and federal requirements that regulate these substances. Failure to comply with these rules – or even simple bookkeeping and reporting errors – can trigger audits and investigations. In some cases, compliance issues will even lead to fines, suspensions of professional licenses and accreditations, or even lead to DEA raids of their businesses.
Others may find themselves under DEA investigation when they are suspected of any type of distribution scheme or conspiracy to traffic narcotics. As part of this investigation, the DEA, perhaps with assistance from a local law enforcement task force, will obtain a search warrant to enter a person’s home or business without warning.
The warrant must comply with Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and state in detail the item(s) intended to be seized, along with the expected location of these items. The manner in which law enforcement agents enter and search a person’s home must also comply with a person’s Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights. If not, evidence seized during a DEA raid can be subject to a Motion to Suppress Evidence and barred from use by the prosecution in a criminal trial.
If you are present when officers arrive to execute a search warrant, you should always ask to view the warrant. If the warrant does not accurately describe the place or items to be searched, is not signed by a judge or magistrate, or appears deficient in some other way, you can refuse permission for the agents to search. (If they search anyway, the results of their search might be thrown out at a later date.)
If a person has been targeted by the DEA, effective legal representation during the early stages of DEA investigations and audits is essential. Often, targets of DEA investigations only find out they are being investigated upon a knock on their door with a warrant to search their home. An arrest may soon follow. However, a person under DEA investigation has legal options and potential defenses even if serious charges are filed. A skilled and proven Tampa criminal defense attorney can assist with any questions you might have at any point in this process.
If Law Enforcement Has Raided Your Home or Business, You Still Have Options. The Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys at Trombley & Hanes Can Help.
Being the subject of an early-morning DEA raid at one’s home or place of work is the stuff of nightmares. Even in such a gut-wrenching situation, it is important to remember that legal options remain available at every point in this process. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Trombley & Hanes in Tampa, Florida, have years of valuable experience defending complex criminal cases. If you have any questions about your case, an open investigation, or potential strategies, call our office at 813-229-7918, or visit our firm online today.