Sometimes criminal racketeering in Miami involves drugs and these drugs may be seized and forfeited as the result of an investigation. Recently, an appellate court heard a challenge to a lower court’s finding of probable cause sufficient for seizure of property, currency and accounts greater than $975,000.00 and a BMW. The appellate court determined that there was probable cause to sustain the seizure and affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
The case arose from a synthetic marijuana products enterprise. Law enforcement officers looked into three stores owned by a business that sold several synthetic marijuana products. The detectives were involved in a minimum of 80 undercover buys of prepackaged synthetic cannabinoids that were meant to be consumed. Because of the investigation, the business’s property was seized, and a forfeiture proceeding was put in place under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act and the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is Florida Statutes section 895.05. The government claimed the property it was taking had been acquired through the sale of synthetic marijuana.
After the property was seized, the business moved to dismiss forfeiture action for lack of probable cause and motion to return assets. The government and defense agreed the motions could be presented without a hearing but after considering a narcotics officer’s deposition. The lower court found probable cause to support the seizure and denied the motions. It held that a Schedule I substance cannot be adulterated or misbranded under Florida Statute Chapter 499.