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Federal sweep nets 17 persons arrested on drug charges

A massive investigation spearheaded by federal investigators and announced by a United States Attorney always makes for good press releases. Another large-scale, multi-year, joint-agency investigation in the dogged war against drugs has resulted in 17 people being arrested on drug charges in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. This project involves methamphetamine and its manufacture and distribution in the region. The announcement by the United States Attorney for the Western District was joined by the federal ATF agency and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, along with several county Sheriffs. The charges included conspiracy to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, and manufacture more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

Federal drug charges and drug conspiracies carry stiff sentences viewed by many as draconian. For example, methamphetamine conspiracy for more than 500 grams carries a 10-year mandatory minimum and goes up to life, along with a $10 million fine, depending on the quantity of drugs handled by the conspiracy. The sentence for federal drug conspiracies is generally based on the highest volume handled by the conspiracy even if an accused being sentenced didn't handle that amount. Despite these ominous penalties, and the continual arrests, no one has reported a decline in drug activities. In fact, evidence seems to show that when numerous labs are shut down, as in this case, numerous others appear quickly to handle the slack.  

Including this indictment, a total of 49 arrests and prosecutions have been made on federal drug charges to manufacture, possess, and distribute methamphetamine in Western North Carolina, according to authorities. Importantly, investigators sometimes make mistaken arrests in a mass operation. Also, occasionally there are arrests of individuals who have names similar to those on the indictment or who are related to them.

In North Carolina and elsewhere, it's vital that in mass-arrest situations concerning drug charges that an accused retain experienced criminal defense counsel quickly. This helps clear up any mistakes or inaccuracies early on. It also helps for counsel and the accused to move quickly and early on any proposals for cooperation. One who has little or no defense to the drug charges may nonetheless survive the process intact by cooperating early, before numerous others start clamoring for deals.

Source: mountainx.com, "Feds indict 17 in meth trafficking ring," David Forbes, July 12, 2013

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