Dashcam image of Deputy Zachary Wester

Former Florida deputy guilty of planting drugs in stopped cars

Zachary Wester denies any wrongdoing

A former Florida sheriff’s deputy whose patrol car was found to contain a stash of narcotics was convicted Tuesday of planting drugs during traffic stops.

A Jackson County jury found fired deputy Zachary Wester guilty on 19 of 67 total counts, including racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, perjury, false imprisonment and possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Jackson County is located in the Florida Panhandle, northwest of Tallahassee.

Internal affairs investigators found the drugs hidden inside Wester’s patrol car in the summer of 2018, shortly before he was suspended. Prosecutors say it was ready-to-plant evidence that Wester used during his traffic stops.

Wester was charged in 2019 in connection with a dozen traffic stops where he arrested drivers and passengers. Prosecutors had to drop charges in nearly 120 cases involving Wester that occurred between 2016 and 2018 because of the accusations that he planted evidence.

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