“Sentencing Commission in sweeping review of prison terms for drug dealers”

August 16, 2013

The Guardian on August 15, 2013 released the following:

By: Dan Roberts in Washington

“The US Sentencing Commission has voted unanimously to begin a sweeping review of federal sentences for drug dealers in a move that could herald long-awaited reductions in America’s prison population.

Just days after attorney general Eric Holder called for a new approach to the so-called “war on drugs”, the commission met in Washington to agree a new policy priority that potentially goes far further than the Department of Justice can in lowering sentences.

As anticipated, the independent government agency, which issues sentencing guidelines to federal judges, will now spend the next few weeks reviewing its “drug quantity table” – the grid that determines prison lengths for dozens of different categories of offence – before publishing new recommendations in January.

A reduction in sentencing guidelines could still be blocked by Congress, but Holder’s speech on Monday has coincided with a new mood of reform in Washington that reverses decades of political pressure to increase penalties for drug dealers. His comments were welcomed by Senate judiciary committee chair Patrick Leahy and leading Republicans such as senator Rand Paul.

Currently the guidelines in the commission’s drug quantity table can result in first-time offenders facing sentences of 19 to 24 years, with no parole, for possession of the maximum quantities of heroin, crack or methamphetamine. Even dealers caught with 100g of cocaine can face between 27 and 33 months, according to the table.

A number of specific offences are also subject to mandatory minimum sentences prescribed by Congress, although Holder instructed US prosecutors on Monday to begin circumventing such automatic terms by changing the way they bring charges.

The seven commissioners who voted on the sentencing panel, including five senior judges, are now thought likely to go much further than this by formulating across-the-board changes to the recommended sentences.

Speaking afterwards, Dabney Friedrich, a former associate counsel in the Bush White House who sits on the commission, told the Guardian she thought that pressure in Congress to control the cost of the US prison system would be a key factor in ensuring political support for such a move.

The Department of Justice also issued a supportive statement on Thursday, which welcomed the commission’s progress.

“As the attorney general expressed earlier this week, we think there is much to be done to improve federal sentencing and corrections,” said DOJ official Jonathan Wroblewski. “Moreover, we think the US Sentencing Commission has a very big role to play in shaping that reform.”

In a statement issued after its meeting, the commission noted that drug offenders account for nearly half of all federal inmates, and that “an adjustment to the drug quantity tables in the sentencing guidelines could have a significant impact on sentence lengths and prison populations.”

“With a growing crisis in federal prison populations and budgets, it is timely and important for us to examine mandatory minimum penalties and drug sentences, which contribute significantly to the federal prison population,” added Judge Patti Saris, chair of the commission.

“The Commission is looking forward to a serious and thoughtful reconsideration of some of the sentencing guidelines which most strongly impact the federal criminal justice system,” she said. “I am glad that members of Congress from both parties and the Attorney General are
engaged in similar efforts.”

The Commission also pledged to work with Congress to reduce the “severity and scope of mandatory minimum penalties and consider expanding the ‘safety valve’ statute which exempts certain low-level non-violent
offenders from mandatory minimum penalties”. It will pass its final amendments to Congress in May.

Political reaction to the recent sentencing developments has been broadly positive. Senator Leahy said was pleased at Holder’s call for a review of mandatory minimum sentences.

Although he believes long sentences are appropriate in some cases, but the veteran Democrat said it believes judges should be given more flexibility rather than relying on mandatory requirements.

Others have expressed concern however at the new mood sweeping Washington.

William Otis, a former federal prosecutor at Georgetown University, said stiffer sentences in recent decades had contributed to lower crime rates.

“Two generations ago, in the 1960s and 1970s, our country had the wholly discretionary sentencing system Holder admires. For our trouble, we got a national crime wave,” he wrote in a USA Today op-ed.

“We have every right to instruct judges that some offenses are just too awful to allow an overly sympathetic jurist to burst through a congressionally established floor.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


“Conn. man expected to plead guilty in drugs and guns case; FBI thinks he has info on art heist”

November 14, 2012

The Washington Post on November 14, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — A 76-year-old reputed Connecticut mobster is expected to plead guilty in a weapons and prescription drugs case that has revealed the FBI’s belief that he has information about the largest art heist in history.

Robert Gentile, of Manchester, has a change-of-plea hearing scheduled in Hartford federal court on Wednesday. He has pleaded not guilty to allegations he illegally possessed firearms and explosives and sold illegally obtained prescription drugs.

It’s not clear whether there is a plea deal. Gentile’s lawyer and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment about the hearing.

Gentile hasn’t been charged in the museum theft. His attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan, has said his client knows nothing about the heist and isn’t a Mafia member.

At a court hearing in March, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham said the FBI believes Gentile “had some involvement in connection with stolen property” related to a 1990 heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Thieves disguised as police officers struck as the city finished celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, tying up two guards and making off with 13 pieces of art including masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet worth more than a half-billion dollars. The artwork hasn’t been found and the museum is still offering a $5 million reward.

Durham has said that FBI agents had unproductive discussions with Gentile about the theft, but he didn’t elaborate on his allegations. Durham also said the FBI believes Gentile is a made member of a Philadelphia crime family.

Gentile has been detained since February when he and an associate, Anthony Parente, were charged with selling illegally obtained prescription drugs including OxyContin, Dilaudid and Percocet.

Authorities searched Gentile’s home and reported finding homemade dynamite sticks, several guns, ammunition, homemade silencers, a bulletproof vest, handcuffs, police scanners, brass knuckles and $22,000 in cash at the bottom of a grandfather clock.

Federal agents swarmed Gentile’s home again in May in what McGuigan called a veiled attempt to find the stolen paintings. McGuigan said at the time that the FBI got a new warrant allowing the use of ground-penetrating radar to look for buried weapons, but he believed they really were looking for the artwork.

“This is nonsense,” McGuigan said in May. “This is the FBI. Are you trying to tell me they missed something the first time? They’re trying to find $500 million of stolen artwork. … All they’re going to find is night crawlers.”

All McGuigan would say on Tuesday was that Gentile has been confined in a cell by himself and “looks terrible.”

“They have him in a hole 24 hours a day where he can’t see anybody,” McGuigan said.

Gentile is charged with three weapons crimes that each carry up to 10 years in prison and six drug crimes that carry up to 20 years in prison apiece. He wasn’t supposed to have any guns because of a 1990s larceny conviction.

The drug case against Parente remains pending. He is free on bail.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Thirty-Three Alleged Members of Middletown Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking Ring Charged in White Plains Federal Court

February 10, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on February 9, 2012 released the following:

Organization’s Leaders and Many Members Belonged to Bloods Nationwide Gang; Two Members Charged With Firearms-Related Offenses

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Janice K. Fedarcyk, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Wilbert L. Plummer, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), Joseph A. D’Amico, the Superintendent of the New York State Police, Ramon Bethencourt, the Chief of the Middletown Police Department, Frank Phillips, the Orange County District Attorney, and Carl E. DuBois, the Orange County Sheriff, today announced federal narcotics charges against 33 members of a drug trafficking ring operating in and around Middletown, New York. The ring was led by QUIANE WILLIAMS, CURTIS MACK, and STEPHONE HERRING, who were, along with many other defendants charged today, members of the Bloods, a nationwide gang. WILLIAMS and another defendant, JOSHUA MARTIN, are also charged with firearms-related offenses.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Drug dealing and gang violence shatter the quality of life in a neighborhood—residents are hesitant to leave their homes, children are afraid to play in the streets, and every corner has the potential for lethal violence. We refuse to stand by and let these purveyors of poison destroy our communities, and today’s charges are the latest manifestation of our commitment to rid our street of these dangerous influences. I commend the dedication and teamwork of our federal and state law enforcement partners in our ongoing effort to clean up the Southern District.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk stated: “Today’s arrests are the result of the kind of teamwork that has proven essential in making real headway against gangs in the Hudson Valley. The 9 Trey Bloods and their drug trafficking have been a detriment to the quality of life in Middletown. The work of the FBI’s Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force and our partners will continue in earnest, with the goal being the safety and security of all of our communities.”

DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Wilbert L. Plummer stated: “DEA works with our law enforcement counterparts to identify and arrest those distributing illegal drugs throughout our communities. Our goal is to keep our streets safe from drug abuse and the violence associated. The 9 Trey gang has been taken down and will no longer be distributing heroin and crack in the Middletown area. I would like to acknowledge the work of all the law enforcement entities that participated in this investigation.”

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico stated: “The problems associated with the proliferation of illicit drugs in our communities is compounded by the levels of gun- and drug-related violence that are committed by gang members looking to control the narcotics trade. These criminals have no regard for the safety of the community. This case, investigated with our law enforcement partners over a period of several years, has resulted in the arrest of a large number of violent offenders within these gangs. This case will significantly impact the ability of organized gangs to profit from the sale of narcotics in the Orange County area, and will keep them out of our communities for the foreseeable future.”

Middletown Police Chief Ramon Bethencourt stated: “As a result of this investigation, numerous individuals have been arrested and charged with serious offenses which serve to diminish the quality of life for the Middletown community. Both Mayor Joseph DeStefano and I are hopeful and confident that this investigation will lead to a reduction in crime and make Middletown a better, safer place to live.”

Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips stated: “This operation is another example of the successful partnership forged between federal, state, and local law enforcement as well as that between the Orange County DA and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The gang members arrested today use violence to terrorize the community while engaged in the drug trade. New York State ‘drug law reform’ has essentially eliminated the ability of police and prosecutors to dismantle these criminal enterprises, and the federal commitment has helped tremendously to reduce the level of drug gang violence. We are fortunate to have a U.S. Attorney who is as committed to cleaning up the streets of Orange County as he is to cleaning up Wall Street.”

Orange County Sheriff Carl E. DuBois stated: “My office remains committed to partnering with the Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, with an emphasis on the Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit, which is one of the largest repositories of gang intelligence files in the region. Compiling and sharing this information with other law enforcement agencies, especially the FBI, is a critical component in past, present, and future enforcement efforts.”

The following allegations are based on the indictment that was unsealed today in White Plains federal court:

WILLIAMS, MACK, HERRING, and a number of their associates were members of a sub-group of the Bloods, known as “9 Trey.”

From January 2010 through February 2010, WILLIAMS, MACK, and HERRING coordinated the drug-trafficking activities of the ring, which was known as the “Middletown Organization.” They obtained heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine and marijuana from a variety of suppliers, including WILFREDO GONZALES, MICHAEL GILES, ANTHONY WEBB, KEVIN WILLIAMS, and RASUN KING. After obtaining the drugs, WILLIAMS, MACK, and HERRING supplied the drugs to 21 associates who were part of the Organization’s distribution network. Members of the distribution network also obtained narcotics from HENRY BRINSON, MAURICE COLON, and HECTOR BATISTA. Associates who were members of the distribution network include: JEREMY SCOTT ALLEN, CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON, VICTOR BURNS, LOREN DWYER, TAYSHAWN FIELDS, RAVEN FUENTES, MATTHEW GARCIA, VICTOR GONZALEZ, ZAKIYYAH HOULKER, BRUCE JACKSON, JEROME JACKSON, DUANE KIRBY, LUIS LIMA, JOSHUA MARTIN, DANIEL MISCHIYEV, KENNETH ORTIZ, JACQUELINE RICCI, JORGE SERRANO, JEFFREY SPANGENBURG, CLAUDIS WILSON, and MICHAEL WRIGHT.

Members of the Middletown Organization periodically moved the locations at which they stored and distributed drugs in order, among other reasons, to avoid detection by law enforcement. Members of the Middletown Organization engaged in a violent assault outside a diner in Middletown that resulted in the violent stabbing by MACK of RASUN KING, a defendant, multiple times. They also maintained firearms in order to protect the operation’s narcotics and drug proceeds. QUIANE WILLIAMS, who was previously convicted of a felony, is charged with possessing ammunition, specifically two boxes of Lawman 9 mm Luger ammunition. MARTIN, who was also previously convicted of a felony, is charged with possessing a firearm, specifically a .38 caliber Amadeo Rossi revolver.

* * *

Beginning this morning, federal and local law enforcement officers have been making arrests and conducting searches in connection with the Indictment and investigation, primarily in Middletown, New York. Twenty-six of the defendants have been arrested, and seven remain at large. In affecting today’s arrests, law enforcement authorities seized two firearms—a .22 caliber Junior Colt semi-automatic handgun and a .22 caliber H&R revolver, over 100 rounds of ammunition—including .22 caliber rounds, 9 mm rounds, shotgun rounds, and a magazine as well as $6,840 in cash.

The arrested defendants are expected to be arraigned this afternoon in White Plains federal court before a magistrate judge. All of the defendants are charged with conspiring to distribute one kilogram and more of heroin, 280 grams and more of crack cocaine, and cocaine and marijuana. If convicted, all of the defendants face a maximum sentence of life and mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. On the firearms charges, QUIANE WILLIAMS and JOSHUA MARTIN each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force—which consists of members from the FBI, DEA, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration Customs Enforcement, United States Marshals Service; New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; Bureau of Prisons, New York State Police Troop F; New York State Police CNET; City of Newburgh Police Department; City of Middletown Police Department; City of Poughkeepsie Police Department; Orange County Sheriff’s Office; Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office; Beacon Police Department; Village of Monticello Police Department; Port Jervis Police Department; Town of Wallkill Police Department; and Orange, Dutchess, and Sullivan County District Attorney’s Offices. Mr. Bharara added that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the White Plains Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marcia Cohen and Rebecca Mermelstein are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


California Dispensaries Moving to Block U.S. Marijuana Crackdown

November 8, 2011

The New York Times on November 7, 2011 released the following:

“By ERIK ECKHOLM

SAN FRANCISCO — Lawyers for the medical marijuana industry said on Monday that they would seek court orders to halt a threatened federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries, their landlords and marijuana growers.

In legal motions to be filed on Tuesday, marijuana distributors and some medical patients will ask federal judges in four districts to issue temporary restraining orders to prevent federal prosecutors from taking action, lawyers and a lobbyist for the industry said at a news conference here on Monday.

“The government’s irrational policy has reached a breaking point,” said Matthew Kumin, one of the lawyers. “The federal government said it will not prosecute patients, and yet they want to shut off their supply. This doesn’t make sense.”

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though its use is allowed for medical purposes in California and some other states. But federal prosecutors and drug agents say that behind the mask of meeting medical needs, much of California’s burgeoning marijuana industry is engaged in large-scale illegal sales.

In letters sent out in late September, the prosecutors warned numerous dispensaries to shut down or face serious civil or criminal charges, including possible seizure of the property of their landlords. Recipients of letters were given 45 days to halt illegal sales, a period that for many ends on Saturday.

Mr. Kumin said that if a restraining order was not quickly granted by the federal judges, he expected some dispensaries to shut down.

The courts could issue an immediate restraint, schedule hearings on whether to grant a preliminary injunction or deny the requests, which the plaintiffs argue are based on a variety of constitutional and state rights.

Tensions between California and the federal government over medical marijuana have been building since the state became the first to authorize public sales, in 1996. Now, 15 other states and the District of Columbia also allow sales of marijuana to patients with a doctor’s prescription.

A thriving industry of growers and storefront dispensaries has emerged in California that pays substantial sums in state and local taxes, but that federal drug officials see as largely illegal. The Internal Revenue Service has also started a crackdown, denying some sellers the right to deduct marijuana-related business expenses.

Asked to comment on the suits, Benjamin B. Wagner, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of California, issued this statement: “Unless and until ordered otherwise, we will continue to do our duty in enforcing federal narcotics laws.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


California’s Top Federal Law Enforcement Officials Announce Enforcement Actions Against State’s Widespread and Illegal Marijuana Industry

October 10, 2011

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on October 7, 2011 released the following:

“SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The four California-based United States Attorneys today announced coordinated enforcement actions targeting the illegal operations of the commercial marijuana industry in California.

The statewide enforcement effort is aimed at curtailing the large, for-profit marijuana industry that has developed since the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996. That industry has swelled to include numerous drug-trafficking enterprises that operate commercial grow operations, intricate distribution systems and hundreds of marijuana stores across the state — even though the federal Controlled Substances Act makes illegal the sale and distribution of marijuana.

While the four United States Attorneys have tailored enforcement actions to the specific problems in their own districts, the statewide enforcement efforts fall into three main categories:

  • Civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in drug trafficking activity, which includes, in some cases, marijuana sales in violation of local ordinances;
  • Letters of warning to the owners and lienholders of properties where illegal marijuana sales are taking place; and
  • Criminal cases targeting commercial marijuana activities, including arrests over the past two weeks in cases filed in federal courts in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno.

The enforcement actions being announced today are the result of the four United States Attorneys working with federal law enforcement partners and local officials across California to combat commercial marijuana activities that are having the most significant impacts in communities.

“The DEA and our partners are committed to attacking large-scale drug trafficking organizations, including those that attempt to use state or local law to shield their illicit activities from federal law enforcement and prosecution,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that its distribution and sale is a serious crime. It also provides a significant source of revenue for violent gangs and drug organizations. The DEA will not look the other way while these criminal organizations conduct their illicit schemes under the false pretense of legitimate business.”

“The actions taken today in California by our U.S. Attorneys and their law enforcement partners are consistent with the Department’s commitment to enforcing existing federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), in all states,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. “The department has maintained that we will not focus our investigative and prosecutorial resources on individual patients with serious illnesses like cancer or their immediate caregivers. However, U.S. Attorneys continue to have the authority to prosecute significant violations of the CSA, and related federal laws.”

Benjamin B. Wagner, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California stated: “Large commercial operations cloak their moneymaking activities in the guise of helping sick people when in fact they are helping themselves. Our interest is in enforcing federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously sick people and those who are caring for them. We are making these announcements together today so that the message is absolutely clear that commercial marijuana operations are illegal under federal law, and that we will enforce federal law.”

André Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, stated:“The federal enforcement actions are aimed at commercial marijuana operations, including marijuana grows, marijuana stores and mobile delivery services – all illegal activities that generate huge profits. The marijuana industry is controlled by profiteers who distribute marijuana to generate massive and illegal profits.”

Laura E. Duffy, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, commented: “The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick. It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law. In addition to damaging our environment, this industry is creating significant negative consequences, in California and throughout the nation. As the number one marijuana producing state in the country, California is exporting not just marijuana but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and perhaps irreparable harm to our youth.”

Melinda Haag, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, said: “Marijuana stores operating in proximity to schools, parks, and other areas where children are present send the wrong message to those in our society who are the most impressionable. In addition, the huge profits generated by these stores, and the value of their inventory, present a danger that the stores will become a magnet for crime, which jeopardizes the safety of nearby children. Although our initial efforts in the Northern District focus on only certain marijuana stores, we will almost certainly be taking action against others. None are immune from action by the federal government.”

Dozens of letters have been sent over the past few days to the owners and lienholders of properties where commercial marijuana stores and grows are located. In the Southern and Eastern Districts, the owners of buildings where marijuana stores operate have received letters warning that they risk losing their property and money derived from renting the space used for marijuana sales. In the Central District, where more than 1,000 stores are currently operating, prosecutors have sent letters to property owners in selected cities where officials have requested federal assistance, and they plan to continue their enforcement actions in other cities as well. In the Northern District, owners and lienholders of marijuana stores operating near schools and other locations where children congregate have been warned that their operations are subject to enhanced penalties and that real property involved in the operations is subject to seizure and forfeiture to the United States.

In the Central District and Eastern District, prosecutors this week filed a total of seven civil forfeiture complaints against properties where landlords are knowingly allowing marijuana stores to operate. One complaint filed against a south Orange County strip mall, for example, alleges that eight of the 11 second-floor suites in the buildings are occupied by marijuana stores and that one small city has spent nearly $600,000 in legal fees in its attempt to eradicate the illegal operations.

Criminal cases recently unsealed across the state reveal marijuana operations that produce huge profits, send their money and illegal narcotics to other states, and market products to young people. In a case involving a now-closed marijuana store in the San Fernando Valley, two conspirators allegedly used encrypted smartphones to coordinate marijuana sales to places as far away as New York and estimated that they would each receive $194,000 in profits per month. In a San Diego dispensary case unsealed last week, six defendants were charged in a 77-count indictment that alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy that included numerous marijuana sales to under-aged persons.

Victor S.O. Song, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation, stated: “IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners and lend its financial expertise to this effort. We will continue to use the federal asset forfeiture laws to take the profits from criminal enterprises.”

Across California, the federal government will continue to investigate and prosecute those whose actions not only violate federal laws, but also the state laws regarding the use of marijuana. The problems associated with the marijuana business have dramatically increased over the past two years, even in areas where local governments and citizens actively oppose these businesses.

The statewide coordinated enforcement actions were announced this morning at a press conference in Sacramento.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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North Texas Man Plead Guilty To Drug Distribution Conspiracy

April 21, 2010

Edgar Gomez-Huerta has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. His sentencing is set for September 8, 2010.

Gomez-Huerta was arrested nearly six month ago as part of a DEA-led operation targeting approximately 84 individuals accused of being associated with Mexico’s La Familia cartel. These individuals were arrested on charges outlined in 10 federal indictments and several criminal complaints.

As part of the operation, law enforcement officers executed search warrants at various locations throughout North Texas that resulted in the seizure of more than 1000 pounds of methamphetamine, 4.5 kilograms of cocaine, $660,000 in cash, 50 firearms, 53 vehicles, one boat, two all terrain vehicles, one camper, and two real properties. This was in addition to more than 650 pounds of methamphetamine, 135 kilograms of cocaine, more than 100 firearms, more than $2.4 million in U.S. currency, and more than $1 million in other assets already seized from members and customers of these organizations throughout the area.

Evidence presented during Gomez-Huerta’s detention hearing revealed that he acted as a Dallas-based cell leader and that he received shipments of methamphetamine on a monthly basis from upper level members of the “La Familia Michoacán” drug trafficking cartel. Moreover, according to plea documents filed in the case a methamphetamine and cocaine supply source began to import into the United States multi-kilogram shipments of methamphetamine and cocaine through border checkpoints near Laredo, Texas. Couriers hired by the suppliers delivered the drugs to Gomez-Huerta who then maintained care, custody and control of the drugs at various “stash” houses in the area prior to their sale. Gomez-Huerta also admitted to obtaining thousands of dollars in proceeds from the sale of drug, a well as, relying on co-conspirators to transport the cash to his supply source in Mexico.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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