TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WHNT) — A former sheriff’s deputy in Gadsden County, Florida was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison in connection to a drug trafficking operation, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
54-year-old Joseph Barnes, Jr. of Chattahoochee, Florida learned his sentence after he pleaded guilty to one count of giving a false statement to a federal officer.
According to court documents, agents determined the then-deputy was actively aiding one person that was involved in distributing illegal drugs in the Gadsden County area that he swore to protect.
Undercover recordings showed Barnes physically examining the drug trafficker’s vehicle, in an effort to find any possible GPS tracking devices – before the vehicle was used to transport drugs, according to the DOJ.
In another recording, Barnes can be seen using his K9 partner – trained to find narcotics – to see if the dog would alert on the vehicle to the drugs hidden inside a compartment. Despite the dog alerting to the drugs, Barnes took no action, the DOJ reported.
The then-deputy instead gave the drug trafficker advice on how to avoid detection in the future.
When he was questioned by FBI Agents later, Barnes gave several false statements regarding his awareness of any drug trafficking activity and any efforts on his part to make it easier for any criminals to avoid getting caught.
The DOJ says Barnes was immediately fired from the sheriff’s office when he was arrested.
The case against Barnes stemmed from an intense investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), according to the DOJ. The joint operation targets drug trafficking organizations.
The investigation also involved the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.