Couple arrested for drug trafficking after police receive tip


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Benjamin Eric Whidden, 47, and Elizabeth Kathleen Whidden, 43, were arrested last night and charged with multiple drug possession and drug trafficking charges.

On March 7, the Gainesville Alachua County Drug Task Force received a tip from the Department of Children and Families about drug use in a house where minor children live. They made contact with the couple at their residence on March 8, and yesterday, detectives interviewed the reporting party at a school in Alachua County, where they were told that Benjamin Whidden had started using narcotics last summer and that the reporting party had seen him using narcotics on at least four occasions.

A search warrant was granted yesterday, and members of the Drug Task Force executed the search warrant at about 5 p.m. Detectives reportedly found trafficking quantities of synthetic cathinones and drug paraphernalia in the couple’s bedroom, and about 7.76 grams of a white substance were found in a purse that was in a backpack containing Elizabeth Whidden’s identification. Detectives also reportedly found about 29.68 grams of Substituted Cathinone in a closet that had been converted into a sitting area, and Benjamin Whidden reportedly had 3.14 grams of Substituted Cathinone in a tube in his pocket.

Both Benjamin and Elizabeth were charged with trafficking in Substituted Cathinone, possession of Substituted Cathinone, possession of drug paraphernalia, and maintaining a structure for the purpose of drug trafficking.

Benjamin Whidden has one felony drug conviction and one misdemeanor drug conviction from 2016. Judge Susan Miller-Jones set bail at $221,000. Elizabeth Whidden has no criminal history; Miller-Jones set bail at $221,000. They have each been ordered to have no contact with each other or with their minor children.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

  • The bond amounts have been more appropriate lately…I think the judges are hearing the message loud and clear that we’re fed up with the crime…. Now we need to double the size of the jail…I’m ok with them spending my tax money on that…we have a future need for more jail space to handle all the felons coming here from everywhere because of Grace Mkt.

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