Last week, twenty three individuals were charged with federal narcotics offenses for allegedly participating in the distribution of heroin and cocaine in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The charges were the result of an investigation led by the Chicago Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Around three pounds of heroin and nearly nine pounds of cocaine were seized in the investigation, as well as additional amounts of heroin, crack cocaine, and ecstasy, tens of thousands of dollars and two guns. Officers executed 11 search warrants in the investigation, which began last September. All 23 defendants have been charged with possession with intent to distribute or distribution of narcotics. The criminal complaint, filed last Wednesday in federal court, included 18 counts.
Of course, the authorities involved in the investigation are happy with the outcome, calling it a success. From a defense perspective, though, one has to question situations where scores of individuals are charged with numerous criminal offenses. All too often, prosecutors take advantage of the opportunity to pile up criminal charges, particularly in high profile cases.
Those who face prosecution in drug cases involving accusation of drug trade involving a network of individuals need to work with an experienced attorney early on in the process to build a strong defense. Prosecutors are not interested in doing defendants any favors in such cases, even whether the evidence may be meager. It is up to criminal defendants and their attorneys to provide a counterbalance to the power and authority wielded by prosecutors and the officers they get their information from.
Approaching criminal defense in this way is not a way to get off the hook, or a guarantee of a favorable outcome. It is, however, the way to ensure the best approximation of justice.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Police, DEA arrest 22 on drug charges on the West Side,” Mitch Dudek, June 20, 2013