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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

Friday, June 21, 2019

Gadsden County Deputy Sheriff Charged With Facilitating Drug Trafficking Offenses


TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Gadsden County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Barnes, Jr., 52, of Quincy, has been arrested on a federal criminal complaint alleging that he unlawfully used a communication facility to aid or facilitate the possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Barnes was released on court-ordered conditions that included surrendering his two service weapons and the trained K-9 that played prominently in Barnes’ alleged criminal activity. The criminal complaint was announced by Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

According to the criminal complaint, Barnes actively aided individuals who distributed drugs in the Gadsden County area by alerting these individuals that federal law enforcement was watching them. In addition, he is alleged to have physically examined drug transport vehicles to determine if law enforcement had attached GPS tracking devices to vehicles about to be used for drug transportation. The complaint also alleges that he used his Gadsden County K-9, which was trained to detect the odor of narcotics residue, to determine whether a law enforcement K-9 could detect the presence of drugs in cars equipped with a hidden compartment to transport a load of drugs. Barnes allegedly used his cell phone to facilitate meetings with these individuals to accomplish these goals.

The criminal complaint and arrest stemmed from an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a joint federal, state, and local cooperative, which targeted a drug trafficking organization.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Eric K. Mountin is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access available public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit

U.S. Attorney's Office Northern District of Florida 850-216-3845
Updated June 30, 2019