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Why so many people are often arrested in drug investigations

When we read about drug investigations and arrests in the news, they often include headlines boasting about the number of people involved. Recently, for example, a news story reported that 15 people were arrested in Florida.

These high numbers are intended to represent a few different goals that law enforcement agencies pursue. First, they can show that tactics used by police are supposedly effective. Second, they can be a reminder that drug crime is a serious problem. Finally, high numbers of arrests can send a message that police can and will arrest any person even remotely associated with drug offenses.

However, these numbers can be misleading and don't necessarily represent an effective justice system. For example, in the recent arrests made in Sarasota, the arrests of 15 people don't necessarily mean that 15 serious drug offenders were taken off the street. In cases like this one, police will investigate drug operations for a period of time, secure a warrant and then arrest any person who gets caught up in the widespread net that is cast.

These stings often catch low-level offenders, people without a criminal record and others who are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The hope and goal of law enforcement is that these people will make a deal with prosecutors and give up the names of other people involved in an alleged drug ring who may be more powerful.

To encourage cooperation in this manner, police may round up as many people as they can and prosecutors will pursue as many charges as possible. In the recent round of arrests, for instance, the 15 people were slapped with a whopping 52 felonies.

Because drug busts are typically little more than a numbers game. police and prosecutors may not be that concerned with what an arrest means for an individual person. This is why it can be so crucial for any person facing drug charges to defend themselves and speak with an attorney.

If you are in this situation, you need to understand that you are not just another number in a news story. The impact of your arrest and the consequences of a potential conviction can be devastating on an individual level, and you need to understand that you have the right to protect yourself, your rights and your future.

Source: Bradenton Herald, "Sarasota detectives arrest 15 on drug charges," April 14, 2015

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