An investigation by Ocoee and Winter Garden police has resulted in the arrest of five people who were allegedly running a methamphetamine lab. The Department of Children and Families took custody of an 18-month-old toddler that was in the house at the time the search warrant was executed. The Orange County narcotics agents arrested Tracy Rudolph, Tobian Rudolph, Carla Wallace, Alana McCall and Hampton McCall on a number of narcotics related charges. The agents charged Tracy and Tobian Rudolph with manufacturing and trafficking in methamphetamine and destroying evidence. Carla Wallace was arrested and charged with the manufacture and possession of methamphetamine. Alana and Hamptom McCall were arrested and charged with owning a structure for use in manufacturing methamphetamine, operating a nuisance and child abuse or neglect.
The arrest of the 5 individuals followed the execution of a search warrant by the agents. Public records reflect the Rudolphs both have had prior convictions on drug charges. Tobian Rudolph has several prior convictions including two drug convictions, a conviction for dealing in stolen property and most recently a conviction for first-degree misdemeanor for petty theft. Tracy Rudolph has had her own legal difficulties including a first-degree misdemeanor conviction last year for the possession of drug paraphernalia.
Prosecuting alleged drug manufacturing operations has been a growing priority for Florida law enforcement in recent years. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from "unreasonable" search and seizures by law enforcement. For a search or seizure by law enforcement to be valid, the officers must have a valid search warrant or probable cause. Probable cause or a search warrant must be based on more than simply a “hunch” or suspicion that the individual has committed or is committing a crime.
The question of whether the defendant was the victim of an unlawful or unreasonable search and seizure is a fundamental issue in drug cases because often drug charges are primarily based upon the physical evidence such as the drugs or paraphernalia, said Florida criminal defense lawyer John Musca. If a Florida criminal defense lawyer establishes that the evidence was discovered or obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress this evidence. If the evidence is obtained as part of an unlawful search or seizure, it is not admissible in court as direct evidence against a defendant.