A former sheriff’s deputy was arrested in Florida this week after a yearlong investigation decided he had planted medication on a minimum of 10 harmless individuals after pulling them over at site visitors stops.
Until final fall, Zachary Wester, 26, had been employed as a deputy in Jackson County on Florida’s panhandle, about an hour west of Tallahassee. He was apprehended Wednesday in Crawfordville, Florida, on 52 counts of felony prices together with racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating proof, possession of a managed substance and false imprisonment, in keeping with the state’s Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
He was additionally charged with misdemeanor perjury, possession of a managed substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Wester’s arrest got here after the FDLE performed an investigation, beginning final August, into allegations he had covertly planted methamphetamine and different illicit substances in harmless drivers’ automobiles after pulling them over to conduct a search. Wester, who joined the division in 2016, was reportedly terminated from his job in September.
“There is no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail,” Chris Williams, FDLE’s assistant particular agent in cost, stated in an announcement. “I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our agents and analysts on this case to ensure justice is served.”
The investigation, which concerned authorities analyzing greater than 1,300 minutes of recorded movies, concluded that Wester steadily pulled over residents for “alleged minor traffic infractions,” in keeping with authorities. During a subsequent search of their automobiles, he “planted drugs inside” and “arrested them on fabricated drug charges.”
To conceal his crimes, Wester evaded official physique digital camera coverage by tailoring his recordings. According to a 30-page arrest warrant, the FDLE discovered unmarked baggage of marijuana and methamphetamine within the trunk of his automotive, in addition to drug paraphernalia allegedly used to plant on his victims, a lot of whom had prior data.
One of Wester’s victims misplaced custody of his daughter because of the planted medication, stated investigators, whereas others he focused suffered life-changing penalties. The investigation prompted prosecutors to drop prices on virtually 120 circumstances involving Wester that occurred from 2016 to 2018.
“I would like to thank the citizens of Jackson County for their patience during the investigation and my staff for continuing to serve our citizens during this difficult time,” Jackson County Sheriff Lou Roberts stated. “I also appreciate FDLE and the State Attorney’s Office for their commitment to this investigation.”
Following his arrest, Wester was booked into the Wakulla County Jail. He is at the moment being held with out bond.