A high-ranking Virginia State Police official said yesterday drug trafficking in the state is tied to Florida's inability to deal with major smugglers from Colombia.
Billy S. Allsbrook, assistant director of the state police special investigations division, said arrests of major cocaine and marijuana dealers in Virginia are not solving the drug problem "because the Florida suppliers are still operating. Someone else just takes up where the other dealer left off."
Allsbrook apparently was more explicit in a speech at the 55th annual conference of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police in Fredericksburg where the Associated Press quoted him saying, "Judges and police officers in (Florida) are on the take and if they're not on the take they're setting up their own deals."
"That's totally ludicrous," said Dick Keating, an officer for the U.S. Customs Service in Tampa, Fla. "I'm with a federal agency and have no compulsion to defend Florida. Statements like that should be proven."
Keating added that he was aware of one Lake City, Fla., judge who is imprisoned for selling marijuana that had been seized for evidence by police in 1977.
"That's the only judge that I've ever heard of who was involved with illegal drugs. There have been 11 or 12 attorneys involved with drugs, but there have been more dentists than judges," Keating said.
Janet Reno, state's attorney for Florida's 11th Judicial Circuit, said, "I don't know what he (Allsbrook) is talking about.If he thinks that's the cause of his drug problem, there is more that he needs to know. He's never talked to me, but I'd be happy to discuss it with him."
Allsbrook, who said he didn't know reporters were present at the Fredericksburg speech and that he "thought that I was just talking to police officers," repeatedly emphasized that quotes from that speech were "taken out of context."
"I have nothing but respect for Florida officials," said Allsbrook, who this year also serves as chairman for the State Drug Enforcement Alliance, involving 20 states including Florida.
"But Florida is plagued with corruption and officials who are on the take. There is documented proof of this," Allsbrook said.
Don North, a spokesman for the Florida attorney general's office, said, "We've been told by officials in Georgia, Texas and California that their drug incidence is down because our laws have become so stiff." For example, he said, Florida law requires a minimum 20-year sentence without chance of parole for drug smuggling.