A 34-year-old North Carolina man is facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $20 million after being found guilty of possessing and distributing drugs. He could also be sentenced to an additional 10 years on firearms possession charges. A federal court jury returned guilty verdicts on charges of methamphetamine and firearms possession and possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute on July 25. Court records indicate that the man was prohibited from owning guns due to his previous felony convictions.
According to law enforcement reports, two ounces of methamphetamine and two hunting rifles were discovered when police executed a search warrant at the man’s Charlotte home in October 2016. Subsequent tests revealed that the methamphetamine seized was 96 percent pure. The operation was part of an investigation launched by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program, and law enforcement agents and officers from the Department of Homeland Security, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Hickory Police Department and the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office took part.
The OCDETF is a joint effort of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and departments dedicated to disrupting and shutting down major drug trafficking enterprises. Its efforts have reportedly led to the conviction of more than 200 individuals on firearms and methamphetamine trafficking charges.
The mandatory sentences for certain drug crime convictions can be extremely harsh, but proving serious allegations beyond a reasonable doubt in open court is often both a time-consuming and expensive process. Criminal defense attorneys will likely know that prosecutors are often willing to settle even strong cases to avoid the uncertainty of a jury trial and spare the taxpayers the expense of a protracted legal battle, and they could offer a guilty plea in return for lenient treatment when the evidence against their clients is compelling.