Authorities in Florida confirmed a fellow law enforcement officer has been arrested on suspicion of planting illegal narcotics and staged false drug arrests during traffic stops.
According to NBC News, former Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Wester was arrested on Wednesday and is accused of a pattern of criminal behavior including racketeering, fabricating evidence, false imprisonment, perjury, official misconduct and drug-related offenses.
He was fired from the agency in September amid an investigation into the claims.
Investigators believe he planted drugs including methamphetamine in vehicles on dozens of occasions after pulling the victims over for a supposed minor traffic citation. Wester was allegedly deliberate in his attempts to “conceal his criminal activity” through acts such as shutting off his body-mounted camera.
One alleged victim of the scheme lost custody of his daughter as he faced false drug charges, prosecutors say.
The allegations have resulted in dismissed charges in nearly 120 cases in which he was involved between 2016 and last year.
In a statement expressing his outrage, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Pensacola Special Agent in Charge Chris Williams said there is “no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail.”
As of the latest updates available, Wester remained behind bars without bond at the Wakulla County Jail.
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[Featured image: Zachary Wester, Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office]