A Florida former sheriff’s deputy has been arrested after an investigation found he consistently pulled over drivers for minor traffic violations and then arrested them after putting drugs inside their vehicles, officials said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a release on Wednesday morning that agents arrested 26-year-old Zachary Wester on felony charges of racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, possession of a controlled substance and false imprisonment.
Zachary was also charged with misdemeanor perjury, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to the office, the arrest came following an investigation begun, at the request of Jackson County Sheriff’s Office last year.
“The investigation shows Wester routinely pulled over citizens for alleged minor traffic infractions, planted drugs inside their vehicles and arrested them on fabricated drug charges,” the department said. “Wester circumvented JCSO’s body camera policy and tailored his recordings to conceal his criminal activity.”
More than 1,300 minutes of footage was reviewed and over 1,400 working hours over the duration of the case were logged by agents to get to the conclusion.
Chris Williams, an Assistant Special Agent for the department, said in a statement, that there is “no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail.”
“I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our agents and analysts on this case to ensure justice is served,” he continued.
Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have spent more than nine months investigating Wester. He was arrested in Crawfordville and taken to the Wakulla County Jail, FL, where he is being held without bail. Wester is expected to make his first court appearance on Thursday. He requested to remain silent and has rejected to speak with investigators.