Officials in Florida have arrested a former sheriff’s deputy after an investigation found he routinely pulled over drivers for minor traffic infractions and then arrested them after planting drugs inside their vehicles, authorities said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a statement that agents arrested 26-year-old Zachary Wester on Wednesday morning on felony charges of racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, possession of a controlled substance and false imprisonment.
The former sheriff’s deputy was also charged with misdemeanor perjury, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the arrest came as a result of an investigation it launched at the request of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office last year.
“The investigation shows Wester routinely pulled over citizens for alleged minor traffic infractions, planted drugs inside their vehicles and arrested them on fabricated drug charges,” the department said. “Wester circumvented JCSO’s body camera policy and tailored his recordings to conceal his criminal activity.”
The office said agents have reviewed more than 1,300 minutes of footage and logged over 1,400 working hours over the duration of the case.
Chris Williams serves as an assistant special agent for the department and said in a statement that there is “no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail.”
“I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our agents and analysts on this case to ensure justice is served,” he continued.
Wester was fired from his post in September and is being held at the Wakulla County Jail without bond. According to The Tallahassee Democrat, his arrest comes months after 119 cases stemming from arrests involving the former sheriff’s deputy were dropped.
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