A former public defender in Walton County, Florida was just arrested this past week as a small part of a much larger and intrusive investigation that took down a substantial drug ring. By early afternoon 22 suspects in a drug distribution crime ring had been arrested in the multi-tiered underground industry which has been supplying marijuana, prescription pills and methamphetamine over a substantial period of time. Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson estimated during a press conference that it is most likely the single largest felony arrest in the history of the county.
The extent of former public defender Lenny Platteborze’s individual involvement with the drug ring has not yet been established. That being said he is noted to be in the first tier of the operation, consisting of the highest in the “hierarchy”.
State Attorney William Eddins spoke up about this during the press conference.
“He was, at a minimum, friends with two of the leaders. That’s really about as far as we can go,”
Platteborze has worked on several high profile cases in recent years. The public defender negotiated the pleas and represented several cases including:
- The plea deal for Dannie Baker, a man charged with killing two Chilean students and seriously injuring three others.
- Acted as an attorney on the defense team representing Steven Cozie, who allegedly was attacked and killed a Georgia visitor in Seagrove Beach.
However State Attorney William Eddins stated that Platteborze’s prior cases should not be affected by his arrest by any means. He went on to explain that Platteborze’s fellow elected Public Defender Bruce Miller had been extremely cooperative throughout the investigation process, and that officials have confidence in the assumption that this was an isolated incident that involved only that employee of that office, and was not corrupting the entire department.
The investigation and resulting raids were known as Operation Avalanche, which started in October. State officials state that Operation Avalanche is currently an ongoing investigation, and more arrests are possible in the near future pertaining to this case. The former lawman Lenny Platteborze was taken into custody at the public defender’s office, while the others involved were apprehended in their homes or at various meth labs in the area.
“The scope of this is going to extend past Walton County,” Sheriff Adkinson said. “There’s just a limit to the number of people you can get to in a short amount of time.” Adkinson discussed the variety of substances confiscated during the raid, and went on to share his concerns.
Eddins, who was a key speaker at the press conference, said that the immense amount of meth being “spewed” into the community was a clear indicator that this major methamphetamine manufacturer was a definite threat, and luckily it has effectively been shut down. The State Attorney holds high hopes that the intelligence gained as a result of the Operation Avalanche investigation is going to continue to assist law enforcement in disbanding other criminal organizations and make the community a much safer place.
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