A former police deputy with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has been accused of planting cannabis, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs in cars of unsuspecting drivers during traffic stops
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Zachary Wester, 26, on felony charges of fabricating of evidence, racketeering, possession of a controlled substance, official misconduct and false imprisonment. Wester also faces several misdemeanour charges, bringing the total count to 52.
Chris Williams, FDLE Pensacola assistant special agent in charge, noted:
“There is no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail,” in a July 10 press release. “I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our agents and analysts on this case to ensure justice is served,”
Following a nine-month investigation, it was determined that Wester routinely pulled over drivers for alleged minor traffic infractions, planted drugs inside their vehicles and arrested them on fabricated drug charges.
Since the investigation began, 119 cases involving Wester have been dropped. In a news conference on Wednesday, investigators shared that there did not appear to be a pattern or motive with regard to why Wester targeted the alleged victims.
CNN reports that three federal lawsuits have been filed against Wester, two in December 2018 and one this past May. The most recent filing, which involves nine plaintiffs, one of the victims, Lora Penn, alleges she was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over June 7, 2018. During the stop, she contends, Wester placed methamphetamine and a hypodermic needle in her purse.