Florida's anti-opioid laws were supposed to take high-level traffickers off the streets. Instead, they put low-level offenders in prison for most of their lives. Many were set up by confidential informants who started working for the police after their own arrests.
Of the more than 2,300 Florida inmates serving time for opioid trafficking, the overwhelming majority—63 percent—have never been to prison before. Another 20 percent were previously incarcerated, but for a drug or property crime only. Just 17 percent had been previously incarcerated for a violent offense. Some 435 are over the age of 50, which is the age prisoners are defined as elderly in Florida. Of those, 53 percent have never been to prison before, and 26 percent have been imprisoned previously for a drug or property crime only. What these numbers show is that, more often than not, Florida prosecutors used opioid trafficking laws to imprison the bottom rung of the drug trade—addicts or people with prescriptions who sold on the side for extra cash—rather than high-level dealers.