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Feds: Gadsden County deputy helped local drug traffickers avoid prison time

Posted at 11:00 AM, Jun 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-21 18:23:10-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A Gadsden County deputy has been arrested on federal drug trafficking charges after being accused of helping local drug traffickers avoid being arrested.

Gadsden County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Barnes, Jr., 52, of Quincy, has been arrested on a federal criminal complaint alleging that he helped local drug traffickers avoid being caught.

According to the criminal complaint, Barnes actively helped individuals who distributed drugs like cocaine, meth, MDMA and other controlled substances throughout the Gadsden County area by alerting them that federal law enforcement was watching them.

In addition, he is alleged to have examined drug transport vehicles to determine if law enforcement had attached GPS tracking devices to vehicles about to be used for drug transportation.

The complaint also alleges that he used his Gadsden County K-9, which was trained to detect the odor of narcotics residue, to determine whether a law enforcement K-9 could detect drugs hidden inside cars equipped with a compartment made for transporting loads of drugs.

Barnes is also accused of using his cell phone to facilitate meetings with local drug traffickers to accomplish his goals.

Thursday morning, Barnes was arrested by the FBI for unlawful use of a communication device or facilitating possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. He was released on court-ordered conditions that included surrendering his two service weapons and the trained K-9 that played prominently in Barnes’ alleged criminal activity.

The federal investigation is on-going.

Sheriff Morris Young says that he wants to reassure the public that any wrongdoing by any of his employees will not be tolerated.

"Any Sheriff's Office employee who violates the law will be held accountable both criminally and internally," said Sheriff Young. "The questionable and poor judgment of one officer is not a reflection of the agency in its entirety."