Chris Jones: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Joseph-Michael Elias McFarland, who pled guilty in May 2016 to sex trafficking of a minor and controlled substance distribution, was recently sentenced to 132 months in Federal Prison, according to Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. The investigation which led to McFarland's arrest was a joint effort between the Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD).
In Sept. 2015, McFarland sold drugs to a confidential source (CS). During the transaction, McFarland informed the CS that he was prostituting a girl. It was later discovered that McFarland knew the girl was only 16-years-old. The drugs tested positive for Alpha-PVP, commonly known as “Flakka” or “bath salts.” The drug causes a condition called “excited delirium,” involving hyper-stimulation, paranoia, and hallucinations that lead to violent aggression and self-injury. Law Enforcement obtained and executed a search warrant for McFarland's residence. During the search they found the 16-year-old victim hiding in a closet, a Harrington & Richardson .410 shotgun, a box of .410 shotgun shells, a Universal Carbine rifle, digital scales, and other drug paraphernalia.
A separate search warrant was obtained and executed on McFarland's cellphone, where additional evidence of his prostitution of a minor and the illegal sale of controlled substances were found.
“Our role in these investigations is to help parents and caregivers keep children safe in their homes and in the community,” said United States Attorney Christopher P. Canova.
A recent press release from the MCSO states “(we) will continue to work closely with our Federal Law Enforcement and Prosecuting partners as well as all local Law Enforcement Agencies to ensure that all persons who choose to victimize the citizens of Madison County are investigated, arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”