Convicted of collaborating with Colombian cocaine kingpins during the 1990s to launder drug money, a 72-year-old Florida lawyer won’t be able to make it back to the Florida bar. On May 3, 2018, the Florida Supreme Court rejected Donald Ferguson’s plea to get his law license back so that he can start practicing again.
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners had recommended Ferguson’s readmission into the Florida Bar, citing his valuable contribution over the years. However, the court rejected it because of his “appalling” conduct. In 1995, Ferguson was accused of being involved in money laundering activities and conspiring to obstruct justice. He hasn’t practiced law since then.
Ferguson had pleaded guilty to both the charges in 1999 and was sentenced to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He admitted to accepting nearly $565,000 in cash to defend a client accused of first-degree murder, and receiving and depositing cocaine proceeds. Ferguson joined the Florida Bar in 1973 and served as an assistant U.S. attorney before moving to private practice.
Cocaine menace in Florida
With over 8,000 miles of coastline and a short distance of 45 miles from The Bahamas, drug traffickers find virtually endless opportunities to use maritime conveyances to smuggle narcotics into Florida. Besides, large amounts of cocaine is trafficked through the Central American-Mexican corridor along the Pacific coast.
The state of Florida has been projected in the media as a principal entry point for cocaine into the U.S. Besides, there is a great tendency to paint the nation’s Cuban as well as other Hispanic populations as the key players in the cocaine trafficking rings, which may not be necessarily true. The Miami-Dade and Broward counties in South Florida are considered as the hub of all drug distribution activities in the state, from where large quantities of cocaine originating from South and Central America are transported to major distribution hubs across the country primarily via Interstate 95.
Cocaine addiction is treatable
The U.S. is the largest consumer of cocaine in the world. Cocaine is the most popular illicit recreational substance of choice in the country after marijuana and prescription opioids, with maximum number of visits to emergency rooms. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016, about 1.9 million people aged 12 or older were current users of cocaine.
Cocaine may be taken by snorting through the nose, smoking to produce vapors, or injecting into the blood with a needle. It triggers a huge dopamine rush that causes a feeling of euphoria. As in the case of any intoxicant or drug, extended use of cocaine can induce long-lasting alterations in the brain’s pleasure circuit, pushing a user toward abuse. With time, the brain system adjusts to the excess dopamine rush, leading to higher tolerance to the drug. It makes the user take stronger and higher number of doses to experience the same level of pleasure caused by the previous doses, causing drug addiction.
Nevertheless, getting free from an addiction depends on an individual’s readiness to seek treatment from a reputed rehab center. A pioneer in mental health and substance abuse treatment, Sovereign Health of Florida provides evidence-based cocaine addiction treatment programs at its Fort Myers and Pompano Beach facilities. For more information on our state-of-the-art cocaine addiction rehab centers, call our 24/7 helpline. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.
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