A former Jackson County, Florida sheriff's deputy has been arrested on charges that he planted drugs in drivers' cars, fabricating crimes in order to arrest them.
Zachary Wester, 26, was arrested Wednesday on several charges, including racketeering, official misconduct and false imprisonment.
Drivers reported that Wester pulled them over for minor traffic violations, then planted drugs in their vehicles before taking them to jail, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, done at the request of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, corroborated these claims.
Wester also circumvented JCSO's body camera policy and changed his recordings to conceal his crimes, FDLE said in a statement.
“There is no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail,” said FDLE Pensacola Assistant Special Agent in Charge Chris Williams. “I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our agents and analysts on this case to ensure justice is served.”
Jackson County prosecutors have reviewed nearly 300 cases in which Wester was involved. They dropped charged in nearly 120 cases, The Democrat reported.
More than a dozen people who Wester arrested either already filed or said they intend to file lawsuits against the Sheriff's Office.