Five law enforcement agencies recently announced they have made arrests in what they are calling a major drug smuggling operation that is based on Jacksonville and reaches the West Coast and Mexico, News4Jax.com is reporting.
Drug crimes in Jacksonville can range from something as simple as possessing marijuana to having enough on your possession to be considered distribution. In extreme cases, a person can be considered a drug smuggler.
In this case, 17 people were arrested. The case began when a 29-year-old Jacksonville man was pulled over and police found $72,000 hidden in a secret compartment inside his car. Police said that the initial traffic stop led to the arrests of 16 other people on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. Most of the people arrested are from Jacksonville, the news report states. Four other people have yet to be arrested.
Authorities are saying that the operation including selling 200 kilograms of cocaine — with a street value of $6 million — through Jacksonville and into Atlanta, Arizona and California. Authorities allege the drugs were transported through the United States Postal Services, through private parcel services and in hidden compartments in vehicles.
Law enforcement officers also seized nine guns, nine vehicles and $330,000 during the investigation.
In cases where an operation or scheme is alleged, prosecutors can seek monetary payments or assets on top of the prison time or probation time a person can face. This is called forfeiture.
A forfeiture proceeding is separate from the criminal case and each has no bearing on the other. In these situations, the state will attempt to prove that the assets were gained through a criminal enterprise. If a judge is convinced, the defendants could be forced to give up their vehicles, houses and other purchases.
And that process is separate from the criminal case, which can bring major penalties. When prosecutors are alleging a large-scale drug operation, the possible prison terms are usually in the decades of years, if the person is convicted. But as in any case, the credibility of witnesses will be key.
When more than a dozen people are alleged to have been involved, proving that each and every person had a specific role is critical. And showing that the operation was connected among each defendant will also play a role in the outcome of the prosecution.
Cases like these can fall apart when the police aren’t able to truly show that the situation was an “operation,” but rather a less cohesive scheme than they thought. That can lead to less-serious charges being filed.
Supremely important in cases like this is making sure to hire an experienced Jacksonville drug defense lawyer from the start. Ensuring your lawyer is in on the case at the beginning is critical so that research can be done and he can review your case step by step.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
More Blog Entries:
Jacksonville Man Accused in Drug-Related Shooting: November 5, 2011
Jacksonville Pill Mill Alleged As Feds Make Arrests: October 30, 2011