Despite some lingering shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, law enforcement agents are still investigating federal drug crimes and bringing charges. Federal drug crimes are extremely serious and those charged with the crimes face serious jail time and other consequences.
If you are facing federal drug charges in Texas, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Kenneth N. Cutrer, Attorney at Law to schedule your initial consultation. We are available 24/7 to help you in your time of need.
Men Convicted of Drug Charges Suspected of Plotting to Kill DEA Agent
Last week, a federal grand jury in Texas indicted four people who have been accused of plotting to murder a North Texas Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officer. One of the defendants made a threat against the officer while in jail serving time for a drug charge. According to prosecutors, the defendant allegedly offered a hitman $5,000 up front to kill the DEA officer and an additional $15,000 for completing the hit.
Another suspect, age 27, is facing allegations for plotting to kill the DEA agent. He was also serving time for a drug charge. Both suspects are in federal custody. Two women were also involved in the plot to kill the DEA agent. They allegedly rounded up the money for the murder-for-hire. Federal authorities are still looking for these suspects and they believe they are currently in Mexico. Each defendant faces a sentence of at least 10 additional years in prison if they are convicted for the commission of murder-to-hire.
Texarkana Rapper Convicted of Federal Drug Charges
A Texarkana rapper who goes by the name of “Band-Aid” was recently convicted of federal drug trafficking charges. The conviction came after a jury trial that lasted four days, heard by U.S. District Judge Robert W. Schroeder, III. Prosecutors brought federal drug charges after finding the man with 400 grams of methamphetamine, 1.6 kilograms of marijuana, a Taurus 9 mm gun, and drug distribution materials.
The defendant pleaded guilty to conspiring with another defendant to possess and distribute marijuana and methamphetamine. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Both defendants face up to a 40-year federal prison sentence. Congress prescribed this maximum sentence, but each judge can determine the defendant’s sentence based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Once the U.S. Probation Office completes an investigation, a federal court will sentence and schedule a hearing. The following agencies investigated the case:
- Special Operations Division of the Texarkana Texas Police Department
- Texarkana office of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Criminal Investigation Division
- The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
- Federal Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lucas R. Machicek and Jonathan R. Hornok prosecuted the case
Commonly Charged Federal Drug Crimes in Texas
Drug crimes are the second most frequently charged federal crimes, next to immigration offenses. Federal and state laws regulate the possession and sale of illegal drugs. Illegal drugs include cocaine, heroin, along with prescription drugs distributed illegally, such as Percocet and Avian. Some examples of commonly charged federal drug charges include the following:
- Possession of unlawful drugs
- Drug manufacturing
- Drug selling
- An organized crime that involves drug
- Drug trafficking
- Drug possession with intent to distribute
Determining Sentencing for Federal Drug Crimes
There are 43 levels of federal offenses. The more serious the offense, the higher level of a sentencing zone. Each crime is assigned a basic offense level. Federal manuals for sentencing include base offense levels for hundreds, if not thousands, of drug crimes. Base levels can also increase or decrease based on prosecutorial discretion. For example, if a defendant has been caught selling PCP and the crime involved violence, the crime will often have a level increased.
When a defendant is minimally involved in a drug crime, prosecutors often reduce their level by two. After the base level of the federal drug, the offense has been determined, the defendant’s criminal history will be taken into consideration by a judge and a sentencing zone will be determined.
Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking
Federal courts will charge and punish defendants convicted of drug crimes more severely when they used a firearm while committing the drug trafficking crime. A charge of possession of a firearm in the course of drug trafficking is one of the most commonly charged criminal drug crimes in federal court. This criminal charge carries serious potential penalties that need to run consecutive to sentences imposed for other crimes.
In the criminal charges involving the Texarkana rapper, he will face consecutive sentences for the different crimes for which he has been convicted. The crime of drug trafficking happens when a defendant possesses a large amount of drugs or is caught in the process of moving a large amount of drugs across borders. When a defendant commits a violent crime of drug trafficking, he or she will face additional prison time, when the defendant has done any of the following:
- Used a firearm in relation to the drug trafficking crime, or another violent crime
- Carried a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, or a violent crime, or
- Possession of a firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime, or other violent crime
Defenses Against Drug Trafficking with Firearm Charges
Possession of a firearm does not necessarily mean that the defendant will face enhanced punishments for a drug trafficking conviction. When the gun is not available and was not used in furtherance of the crime, the judge may refuse to use enhanced sentencing.
Contact Our Experienced Federal Drug Crimes Lawyers Today
If you are facing a federal drug charge, the sooner you speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the better. Kenneth N. Cutrer is an experienced federal drug crimes lawyer with over 20 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer. Contact Kenneth N. Cutrer Attorney at Law today to schedule your initial consultation.