Florida deputy accused of planting drugs in traffic stops

Agent: 'No question' the deputy acted on purpose and put innocent lives in jail

MARIANNA, Fla. - A former sheriff’s deputy in the Florida Panhandle has been arrested on charges that he routinely pulled over drivers for minor traffic infractions, planted drugs and then arrested them on made-up drug charges.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement statement says former Jackson County deputy Zachary Wester was arrested Wednesday in Crawford, Florida.

"There is no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail," said FDLE Pensacola Assistant Special Agent in Charge Chris Williams. "I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our agents and analysts on this case to ensure justice is served."

Wester mug shotWester is facing felony charges of racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, possession of a controlled substance and false imprisonment. He also faces misdemeanor charges of perjury, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

"I would like to thank the citizens of Jackson County for their patience during the investigation and my staff for continuing to serve our citizens during this difficult time," said Jackson County Sheriff Lou Roberts. "I also appreciate FDLE and the State Attorney’s Office for their commitment to this investigation."

The FDLE began investigating Wester last August at the request of the sheriff’s office. The Tallahassee Democrat reports he was later fired. Prosecutors had to drop charges in nearly 120 cases.

Online court records showed no attorney listed for Wester.

Because the case is active, anyone with details relevant to the investigation is asked to contact the FDLE Pensacola office at 1-800-226-8574.

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