“The War on Drugs” has led to countless instances in which the constitutional rights of suspects and defendants have been violated and even more examples of injustice with respect to sentencing. Though less common, there have also been a significant number of drug cases in which the conduct of law enforcement officers has been found to be criminal in itself.

One of those cases is unfolding in New Jersey’s federal courts right now. The story centers on a Paterson, New Jersey, police officer who has been accused of conspiring to plant drugs on a man and then arresting him on fraudulent drug charges. If convicted the officer could be sentenced to a prison term of up to 11 years.

Prosecutors say two of the co-conspirators confronted the soon-to-be framed victim with concerns that he had been working with federal authorities in early Feb. and then plotted with the officer in question (and unbeknownst to them, an FBI source too) to plant drugs on the man so the officer could arrest him. In fact, the complaint states, the officer specifically suggested planting cocaine and prescription drugs on the man because he would face a longer possible prison sentence if convicted.

The plan went off without a hitch until the officer was unable to locate where the FBI source had planted the drugs on the man without the source’s help. At that point, the officer arrested the victim on several drug charges and later — in an attempt to establish probable cause for the stop in his official report — said a “known” man from the South Paterson community flagged him down and told him that “two Middle Eastern males walking north on Main Street were in possession of CDS.”

Although it’s fortunate that the victim in this case did not have to spend several years in prison due to a conviction on bogus drug charges, some defendants have not been so lucky. Don’t take chances. If you or someone you know has been arrested on drug charges, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Source: New Jersey Star-Ledger “Paterson police officer charged with conspiring to plant drugs with man,” Tomas Dinges, Sept. 18, 2012