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Sheriff says drug bust led him to a startling suspect: His daughter

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During a drug bust in Franklin County, Fla., Sheriff A.J. Smith said, he asked a dealer where she had gotten her supply of methamphetamine, which the sheriff has been trying to eradicate from the county.

When the dealer gave him a name, Smith (R) said he was stunned.

“I said, ‘My daughter?’ And she said, ‘Yes, sir,’ ” he recalled Wednesday in an interview with The Washington Post.

He and his deputies set up a sting, Smith said, and caught his daughter delivering a large quantity of meth.

Smith arrested his daughter, Kristen Kent, 38, last week on meth trafficking and other charges, arrest records show.

“I felt terrible about it, but I also knew that the quantity of drugs she was selling was unbelievable and that she had to be stopped,” he said, alleging that Kent had delivered 2 ounces of meth. “Did it feel good? No, it didn’t feel good, but it had to be done.”

It was not immediately clear whether Kent, who has been released on bond, has an attorney in the case. The public defender’s office did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

He told police he held a meth-fueled ‘death party’ for his sick wife. Now he’s been charged with murder.

Smith said he uses prevention, rehabilitation and, when needed, incarceration to keep the drugs off the streets. He said that his daughter had a substance abuse problem about 15 years ago but had gone to rehab and that he thought she had been doing well. He said she had been working at the tax collector’s office and raising her three children.

“So it was, you know, it was a total shock,” he told The Post.

A day after his daughter’s arrest, he posted her photo on his department’s Facebook page, as he does with other people accused of crimes.

“Methamphetamine does not discriminate & neither do we. It does not matter who you are- No one is immune or exempt,” he wrote. He added, “Our hearts break over the grief meth causes all- whether you use it, sell it or … love someone who is involved with it. If you want to break free from this lifestyle, we want to help you.”

Smith told The Post that the situation has made him even more determined “to stop the drug abuse that’s going on here.”

Meth, a stimulant primarily manufactured in Mexico and distributed throughout the United States, can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other fatal complications. Drug overdose deaths associated with psychostimulants such as meth have been increasing in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Smith said the case involving his daughter has been turned over to federal authorities.