Florida High School Undercover Operation Still Producing Arrests a Year Later

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In one of those stories that sounds like it came from a hack police drama, Florida police infiltrated a high school in Palm Beach, Florida for an entire school year to arrest kids using and selling marijuana. The officers were very effective in their roles – attending classes, taking exams and even the standardized tests to get into college. Teachers were unaware of the undercover operation. Students, especially the 30 who ended up getting arrested, didn’t know either.

The operation ran through the 2010 -2011 school year, but the arrests have continued based on information gathered at Boynton Beach High School and other schools in the area. Many of the charges were felonies because the accused are over 18.

In one detailed case, discussed on NPR, one of the students fell in love with and asked an undercover officer to the prom. The same officer ended up arresting him after she convinced him to get her some weed. The accused, who pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to avoid prison, said he only did it for her… for love.

As is usual in these cases, defendants argue that they were coerced into doing things they ordinarily wouldn’t have. Police must walk a fine line between discovering crime and creating it. The latest string of arrests will no doubt feature the same arguments. This round, finished late last year, led to 12 more arrests.

Sentences and felony charges may seem harsh for high school students getting marijuana for friends, but if they are over 18, they are prosecuted as adults, and the crimes happen, almost by definition, within 1000 feet of a school. This kicks in the harsher penalties for selling narcotics in a school zone.

More about “Operation D minus” can be found here.

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