Tag Archive: Federal Drug Charges

Senators consider adding new mandatory minimums for fentanyl

The drugs fentanyl and carfentanil have been playing outsized roles in the opioid epidemic, which is already high-profile. Fentanyl is considered to be about 100 times more powerful than morphine, while carfentanil is perhaps 10,000 times more powerful. Yet even though carfentanil is meant to tranquilize large mammals like rhinos and hippopotamuses, the drug is sometimes mixed with heroin or other opiates used by addicts. These potent synthetic opioids pose a real risk to law enforcement, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He recently warned officers to avoid any exposure to the drugs, as people are overdosing in record numbers. He warns that America doesn’t have time to debate whether the opioid epidemic is a public health crisis or... Read More »

SCOTUS: Defendant who didn’t benefit shouldn’t lose to forfeiture

One of the most devastating aspects of the War on Drugs has been civil forfeiture. Under this procedure, the government can seize the money and property of drug defendants before they’ve even been convicted of a crime. As long as law enforcement can make any reasonable argument that assets are tied to illegal activity, defendants can’t get them back without proving they were not. Typically, they can only do that if they’re acquitted or have kept very careful records. Civil forfeiture has been very successful at taking profits from the illegal drug industry and turning them over to the law enforcement agencies that seize them. It has also been harshly criticized for a variety of reasons. For one, it often... Read More »

Lawmakers reveal bipartisan effort to reduce harsh drug sentences

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed all federal prosecutors to return to the old ways. Instead of taking steps to limit long prison sentences for nonviolent, low-level drug offenders, he ordered U.S. Attorneys nationwide to seek the sentence set out in the federal sentencing guidelines, no matter how harsh. "By definition," he opined in his policy memo, "the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory-minimum sentences." In other words, if the sentence for a nonviolent, street-level marijuana user’s sentence is harsh, it’s because Congress wants it that way. But there’s plenty of evidence that Congress doesn’t want the extreme drug sentences we’ve been seeing — drug sentences that break up families, devastate... Read More »

Source: Feds are about to begin filing the most serious charges

Traditionally, prosecutors have had the authority to determine which among the various possible criminal charges to file in a given situation. They can also choose not to file any charges at all, even when there is a provable case. This concept is called prosecutorial discretion. That said, U.S. Attorneys and their staffs of federal prosecutors serve at the pleasure of the Attorney General, who directs the overall policy direction taken by anyone representing the Department of Justice. During the Obama Administration, for example, Attorney General Eric Holder urged federal prosecutors to avoid taking on low-level marijuana crimes, especially in states that had legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Marijuana possession cases, he reasoned, are better handled by state and... Read More »

DHS Secretary Kelly opposes AG Sessions on federal drug policy

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly recently signaled a reversal in his opinion on marijuana — a reversal that puts him at odds with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has repeatedly remarked that he disagrees with the legalization efforts going on nationwide and even linked use of marijuana to an alleged increase in violence. Neither the supposed increase in violence nor a connection between weed and violence is supported by evidence. However, despite a prohibition on most research regarding marijuana, we do have at least one solid fact: Despite Sessions’ regard for it as "poison," no death from a pot overdose has ever been reported, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s drug fact sheet on the substance. Contrast that, as... Read More »

Sessions: No end to the Drug War, crackdown on gun use

At a recent event before mostly local, state and federal law enforcement officers, newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a clear message to those who believe the War on Drugs has created America’s racist incarceration crisis. He does not plan to scale back that so-called war. According to the Courthouse News Service, Sessions seems to hold the false belief that violent crime is on the rise in the U.S. and that drug distribution is the reason. Moreover, Sessions blames the recent increase in opioid-related heroin addiction in America on "Mexican drug cartels…producing new, low-cost heroin" — a novel understanding of that issue. In fact, most scholars point to evidence that violent crime is at an historic low across... Read More »

Miami Springs police officer faces federal corruption charges

A sergeant with the Miami Springs Police Department was arrested by the FBI on federal charges of corruption. The 16-year police veteran who began his career with the force in 1999 as a public service aide was the subject of an investigation involving a confidential informant. The United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida, announced that he was arrested for "attempting to affect commerce by extortion under color of official right." The federal complaint alleges that the confidential source informed the sergeant in September last year that he was involved with drug trafficking. Rather than arresting him, the policeman reportedly offered to aid him in his illegal activities. His assistance allegedly included supply of the supposed drug trafficker with... Read More »