Broward was in the midst of the crack era, with the drug surging through the county, thanks to a pipeline of cocaine hitting South Florida from South America.
Law enforcement in the area met the mandate of the drug war with creative zest, particularly Israel’s precursor at the time, Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro. Under the sheriff’s orders, the office manufactured its own crack cocaine for officers who posed as dealers and then arrested buyers, a practice that was controversial even within law enforcement circles.
“I never heard of that in my life before,” a Drug Enforcement Administration official told the Sun-Sentinel in 1989. Navarro
Sheriff`s Office Makes Own Crack For Drug Stings,
Broward County`s most visible crack cocaine fighter, Sheriff Nick Navarro, is having hundreds of rocks of the addictive drug worth more than $20,000 manufactured and sold on Broward County`s streets.
Police are pleased with the results. Criminal defense attorneys are angry.
Sheriff`s Office chemist Randy Hilliard legally manufacturers rocks in a laboratory on the seventh floor of the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. Sheriff`s officers pose as drug dealers, sell Hilliard`s crack cocaine and arrest the buyers.
It is necessary to manufacture crack because deputies are making so many reverse sting arrests — where they pose as crack sellers — they cannot keep up with the demand, Hilliard said.
In addition, with Hilliard as the manufacturer, the Sheriff`s Office is assured of quality control, he said. When police use drugs confiscated from drug dealers, Hilliard has to analyze dozens of rocks to be sure they are authentic for use in the stings.
Hilliard`s first batch of rock was made in February when he was provided a kilo — 2.2 pounds — of cocaine by the Sheriff`s Office. After determining it was cocaine, he used it to prepare his own crack.
Each pencil eraser-sized rock was then placed in a tiny plastic bag for sale by undercover officers. So long as the bag is not opened or ripped during the transaction, Hilliard does not have to analyze its contents before it is presented as evidence at a defendant`s trial.
In the first three months of this year, the Sheriff`s Office made 2,300 crack-related arrests, Berticelli said.
“In the volume of cases we`re handling … you couldn`t produce enough“ through traditional sources, he said.
Berticelli said the bag of crack sold by undercover officers usually remains sealed.
“It`s nothing more than an investigative aid,“ he said.
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