Published: Feb 03, 2014 10:55 AM EST
Updated: Feb 03, 2014 10:10 PM EST

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - A Florida crime lab employee has resigned during an investigation into missing drug evidence.
    
Joseph Graves submitted a resignation letter Monday, two days after the agency announced an investigation into missing evidence that could compromise hundreds of cases.
    
The Florida Law Enforcement Department confirmed the resignation of a chemist who is suspected of substituting non-prescription drugs for prescription painkillers. When The Associated Press asked for the suspect's resignation letter, the department released a copy of Graves' letter.
    
The agency is now reviewing 2,600 cases the employee handled involving 80 law enforcement agencies in 35 counties. The suspect has not been formally charged.

A spokesperson for the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said 12 cases are being investigated there, while Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said his agency was investigating 47 cases possibly involved.

Contact information for Graves could not immediately be located.

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Now the local law community believes this could put many criminals back on the streets.

"If a person has already been charged, then the evidence can be supressed, charges will more than likely be dismissed," said former U.S. Attorney Nicole Waid.

"There are going to be a lot of dollars spent on this, a lot of time wasted unnecessarily--but that's what happens when law enforcement doesn't follow the rules," said local defense attorney Scott Moorey.