Last Updated: Saturday, February 01, 2014, 1:31 PM
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating a major case of evidence tampering across the state by an agency chemist.
FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey announced the breach during a press conference Saturday morning.
Investigators said they’re all cases processed by a chemist out of their Pensacola Regional Crime Laboratory in Escambia County.
The investigation began Thursday, Jan. 30 when Escambia County Sheriff’s investigators notice prescription pain pills missing from the evidence locker room.
Law enforcement found the prescriptions were replaced with over-the-counter medications.
In each of the tampered cases, investigators said they were all cases were processed by the same chemist.
Right now, investigators said it’s possible the chemist is either a user or is tied to drug trafficking. However, the motive is still not clear.
The chemist is on leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
Beginning Monday, agents will fan out across the state to determine the exact number of compromised cases.
Officials said they are working to figure out how to prevent another breach.
Attorney General Pam Bondi issued the following statement regarding the FDLE’s statewide review:
“I applaud Commissioner Bailey and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their swift and direct response to this situation.
“What has allegedly happened here has potentially put at risk the extensive efforts of law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts in many of the cases handled by this analyst. Our battle against prescription drug abuse in Florida has been very successful over the last three years, and I will not tolerate any actions that compromise our continued success in ridding our state of this problem. I have directed my Office of Statewide Prosecution to assist the FDLE and State Attorneys in any way possible in this investigation and any resulting prosecution, as well as to assist any of our State Attorneys in addressing the impact on any criminal cases that could be affected. According to these serious allegations, this individual has allegedly violated a sacred position of trust as a law enforcement official, and should an arrest take place, I will demand the most severe penalty possible under Florida law.
“The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is a top notch law enforcement agency. I continue to have complete confidence in them and their work. This situation simply underlines the extent of the problem our country faces with prescription drug abuse. While this situation is very serious, it will not undermine FDLE’s dedication to stopping prescription drug abuse and our overall statewide efforts.”