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Florida DEA task force agent accused of buying illegal drugs

The FBI arrested Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joshua Earrey after they say he bought oxycodone from a confidential source he was handling.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Year who was assigned to a Drug Enforcement Agency task force is accused of buying drugs from a confidential source, according to a criminal complaint obtained by First Coast News.

According to the complaint, the FBI found probable cause to arrest Joshua Earrey on Friday for being an "unlawful user or addict of controlled substances" in possession of a firearm.

Earrey has worked for FHP for approximately 22 years and has been assigned to the DEA Task Force since Sept. 2020. In 2009, he was honored by the Florida Cabinet as trooper of the year.

Attempts to reach Earrey by phone were unsuccessful. Messages left for his attorney were not immediately returned.

The criminal complaint says a confidential informant told the FBI that Earrey had been addicted to Oxycodone since 2021. The man he was buying the drugs from is a confidential source for the DEA, the document says.

Earrey had been the source's "handling agent" at various times between Jan. 2021 and June 2022, according to the court filing.

The source told the FBI Earrey was buying between 7 and 10 pills at a time and paying $30 a pill, according to the complaint. The source said Earrey began using the pills due to chronic back pain. He said he worried that Earrey was an addict and warned him to "slow down." 

In addition to alleged illegal drug buys alleged in the complaint, it shows that from May 2018 to Jan. 18, 2023, Earrey was written 43 legal prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and extended-release morphine. 

Evidence against Earrey includes phone exchanging 4,572 texts and 3,164 phone calls with the confidential informant.

At one point, investigators say, Earrey's exchanges with the confidential source comprised 27.4% of Earrey's phone activity.

Earrey appeared before a federal judge in Jacksonville Friday and had his bond set at $50,000, court documents show. The judge ordered that he not contact any DEA or FHP employees without court approval, undergo mental health treatment and drug addiction treatment, as well as submit to random drug tests.

First Coast News Crime Analyst Mark Baughman, a former DEA agent, says Earrey's active criminal cases are likely to be thrown out.

"Any involvement where he was either handling evidence, giving statements, testifying, something that would be directly related to a defendant where his integrity or the case could be called into question would definitely be called into question and probably reviewed," said Baughman.

Baughman worked with Earrey on cases through the years.

"Always knew him to be a team player, a good worker, always there for us, did a good job, never questioned his integrity," said Baughman.

Baughman says he was aware of Earrey having back issues and hip replacements.

"That's not uncommon for not just police officers, but anyone in a profession or line of work where they're injured and some how the end up abusing an opioid of some sort," said Baughman. "It's sad."

The Florida Highway Patrol and DEA have not yet responded to requests for comment.

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