Undercover detectives in Miami Beach conducting a sting last week found a small amount of cocaine, some marijuana paraphernalia and an 11-year-old girl sitting on a stairwell who closed the drug buy.
The detectives who were investigating a string of complaints over drug sales just off Ocean Drive say the girl’s uncle led them to her, before she produced a small baggie of cocaine and a grinder used to crush marijuana.
The child, who told police she was hungry, was taken to police headquarters on Washington Avenue and fed McDonald’s. Police said the Florida Department of Children & Families were notified of the situation before the girl’s mother came to the police station and picked her up.
Police said Antwan Lee, a 32-year-old with a criminal past that includes child abuse, led police around the corner to the front of a liquor store on Collins Avenue just below Ninth Street, where the child “reached into her front left pocket and extracted a small, clear ziplock baggie containing a white powdery substance.”
It’s not uncommon for drug dealers trying to shield themselves from possession charges to use children as go-betweens for drug deals, law enforcement investigators say.
Lee was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, intent to sell cocaine, possession of marijuana and delivering drugs to a minor. He was taken to the Turner Guilford Knight correctional center and his bond was set at $16,000.
Also arrested and charged with cocaine and marijuana possession and intent to sell was Lee’s associate Artie Lawyer. Lawyer was released from jail after posting an $8,500 bond.
Lee has an extensive criminal history of more than a dozen arrests going back two decades that include charges of grand theft, battery on law enforcement and trespassing on school grounds, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show.
Most of the charges were dropped. In 2012 he was arrested by Miami police on four counts of fondling a child. The charge was eventually lessened to child abuse with no bodily harm and Lee spent a year in jail followed by four years probation.
According to Lee’s most recent arrest affidavit, the two officers conducting the sting last Thursday were walking past the Waldorf Tower Hotel at 860 Ocean Dr. when Lee offered them “white” and “loud,” slang for cocaine and marijuana. When the detectives showed interest, he led them around the corner on Ninth Street to his 11-year-old niece, who called him “Uncle Twan.”
The officers said when they reached the girl, Lee ordered her to grab the grinder and hand over a small baggie of cocaine containing less than half a gram. When the cops suggested they wanted more, they said Lee left them with the girl and returned a short while later on hoverboard with more cocaine.
The cops, who said they paid $60 for the half gram and $100 for the gram Lee later brought, alerted other officers who placed Lee under arrest. As of Monday afternoon he was still in jail.