By Ashley Cox

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Willie Murphy, Jr., 39, of Tampa, Florida, has been sentenced to serve 20 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base and a synthetic cathinone as a result of his previously entered guilty plea. The sentence was announced by Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

On June 5, 2020, Florida Highway Patrol troopers conducted a traffic stop on Murphy’s vehicle as it travelled northbound on Interstate 75 through Alachua County. During a search of the vehicle, troopers located more than 55 grams of cocaine base (crack), and over 1,100 pills later determined to be Eutylone Hydrochloride (a synthetic cathinone), and a small amount of marijuana. During questioning, Murphy admitted that he had a couple ounces of crack and about 1000 “molly” pills in the vehicle, which he intended to sell.

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Murphy’s prior criminal history includes more than 15 felony convictions, several which involve narcotics distribution and violence against law enforcement officers. As a result, he has been previously incarcerated in the Florida Department of Corrections on five separate occasions.

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“Those who repeatedly commit serious crimes are deserving of significant prison sentences,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Coody. “Thanks to the outstanding work of our law enforcement partners at the Florida Highway Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration, this recidivist drug trafficker has been called to account for his continued criminal conduct.”

“The robust partnerships established between our federal, state and local law enforcement agencies allow us to work together to prevent crime and stop drug trafficking,” said Lieutenant Colonel Troy Thompson, Deputy Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “We are proud of our partnerships and the incredible efforts our Florida Highway Patrol troopers perform every day to build a stronger, safer Florida”.

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“This conviction highlights the importance of the relationship between the federal and state law enforcement agencies,” said DEA Miami Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge La Verne Hibbert. “As a result of the collaboration with our law enforcement partners, this repeat offender will now be behind bars, and rendering our community safer.”