JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A former Jackson County deputy accused of planting drugs on people and arresting them has been arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Former deputy Zachary Wester is accused of planting drugs on people during traffic stops. (WJHG/WECP)
Wednesday Zachary Wester, 26, of Crawfordville, was arrested on felony charges including racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, possession of a controlled substance, and false imprisonment, as well as misdemeanor perjury, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
FDLE began investigating last August at the request of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. They say Wester would pull people over and plant drugs inside their vehicles. They also say Wester messed with the body camera recordings to hide what he was doing.
“There is no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail,” FDLE Pensacola Assistant Special Agent in Charge Chris Williams said. “I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our agents and analysts on this case to ensure justice is served.”
FDLE investigators say they logged 1,400 working hours on this case.
In September, 119 cases were dropped by the State Attorney's Office due to Wester's involvement in the cases. They reviewed a total of 254 cases.
The First Florida Judicial Circuit will lead the prosecution and despite the active investigation, the State Attorney's Office says they're ready to go to court.
Bill Eddins, the State Attorney for the First Judicial Court of Florida said, “It's been the policy of my office to not plea bargain these type of cases. We believe they are very serious and we expect to proceed, based on my review of the matter, we expect to proceed to the trial of these cases.”
Sheriff Louis "Lou" Roberts III explained the investigation was slowed due to Hurricane Michael but thanked Jackson County residents for their patience.
Roberts said, “There were some things that came through such as the storm that delayed some of this but I want to thank the public for being there and patiently waiting.”
State Attorney's Office officials say they do not believe any other deputies or Jackson County personnel were involved with Wester. Wester will make his first appearances in Wakulla and Jackson counties over the next few days.
Below are previous stories we've done on the investigation;
-Deputy allegedly plants drugs in vehicles during traffic stops
-At least 40 cases dismissed after former JCSO deputy allegedly planted drugs
-UPDATE: Charges dropped in 119 cases involving deputy who allegedly planted drugs on people during traffic stops
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