Drug Busts– Narcotics Surveillance
Law enforcement will in many cases concentrate and target on known drug areas by setting up surveillance from an undercover motor vehicle or other confidential location. The “eyes” or officer watching will wait for a dealer to start selling, with backup units waiting in cars in the surrounding location. Within a couple of hours, police will confirm that a money transaction has taken place between the buyers and the dealer. The dealer may depart to recover the drugs from another area, such as a drainpipe or house, which will also be noted.
Once the drugs have been traded for money, the buyers will be tracked by the “eyes” until the backup unit stops and searches them. If the detained buyers are identified to have drugs in their possession, then the officer’s suspicions are validated and backup goes into position for the “take down.” If the dealer is apprehended and has no drugs on their person, a case can still be made if they are discovered to have drug money. The site where the dealer brought back the drugs can also be tracked and the drugs uncovered. Again, no drugs were really seen on the dealer, but the prosecution has more than enough proof to substantiate the defendant guilty of possession with intent to deliver.
Drug Busts– Conspiring to Sell Drugs
It requires a lot of employees to handle a business and drug operations are no different. The dealer alone cannot manage the full operation, so he needs small time dealers on the streets to transfer the “product.” He employs people as “lookouts” to ensure that police are not attempting to shut down the corner, just like loss prevention officers at department stores. Somebody must provide the dealer with the drugs he is selling and supply him more drugs when he is sold out. And since no dealer wants to have a lot of cash on the corner in case of an arrest, someone should take and store the money off the corner. Police officials observe their actions and arrests people working with the dealer as co-conspirators, even though none of them were in possession of drugs at the time they were arrested.
Drug Busts– Traffic Stops
New Mexico police come up with all sorts of reasons to halt vehicles in heavy drug trafficking areas, like the now infamous Interstate 25. Forgetting to turn on a signal, passing through a stop sign, and a blown tail light are just some of the petty reasons police use to pull someone over if they suspect the driver has drugs. If the police move toward a car and see sneaky or suspicious movements towards the floor of vehicle, or if the driver seems very apprehensive, then the officer has a right to “fear for their safety.” They will then probably ask the driver for consent to inspect the car.
If the preceding search of the car does not produce drugs, the driver can still be apprehended if he is found to have plastic baggies or bundles of cash on his person. Suspecting drugs are in the car, the police officer will then get a search and seizure warrant for the car, and will likely call out the K-9 unit. Upon implementation of the warrant, police inevitably find more baggies and the drugs hidden in the car. At the moment of arrest, the car driver did not have any drugs on him, but the proof is pretty strong that he constructively owned the drugs with the intent to sell them.
Drug Busts– Postal Service Interdiction
A lot of drug dealers have couriers that send out drugs by means of postal service from source states. Often times, the person is not even aware that the package has drugs, as generally they are just advised to sign for the package and inform the dealer once it arrives. The moment police in the source state get a warrant to open the package, they can affirm that there are drugs in it. Police then sequester the package at the post office, seal it up and send it to its intended location; however, rather of a regular mailman delivering the package, it is a police officer or postal police officer in disguise. At this moment, the police have already obtained an anticipatory search warrant from a magistrate to serve on the source house, if all goes as intended. As soon as the receiver is paid and the package is taken to the dealer, the car is stopped and the package recovered. Both the occupants of the vehicle are apprehended and charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana, conspiracy and related infractions.
The package was not on either the driver or passenger at the time of their arrest and the driver was never seen holding the drugs. But again, the proof of their possession and intent to deliver the drugs seized is fairly strong. They could probably attempt to state that they had no information of what was in the package or the driver could dispute mere presence, but defending a case such as this would be troublesome.
Drug Busts– Search and Seizure
All drug dealers should keep their drugs at some venue before they are sold on the streets. Most of the time, informants or neighbors give the police tips about residences where drugs are being amassed and sold. Security is then set up and they monitor buyers as they approach the house and exchange money for drugs, while buyers are often stopped and searched for drugs. Covert officers and confidential informants also use pre-recorded buy money to make purchases from dealers selling from houses.
Once there is enough evidence accumulated to prove that drugs are being sold from a property, the police request permission to execute a search and seizure warrant on the house. When executed, the drugs, drug paraphernalia, and pre-recorded buy money are taken from the property as proof of residence and other proof of drug activity.
The undercover officer will then determine the people who answered the door and dealt with the buyers and arrest him for PWID. He may actually have no drugs on him, but there will probably be evidence in his home or apartment relating him to the drug sale operation, such as electricity bills and documents in his name at that address, a firearm in his possession, and pre-recorded buy money that was used hours earlier when a source made a purchase inside the residence– all establishing direct and circumstantial evidence that he was managing a drug business from the location.
You do not need to be in possession of drugs when taken into custody or be seen supplying or selling off drugs to be charged with possession with intent to deliver. It is what you intend to do with drugs that you actually or constructively possess that becomes a legal concern. Despite these cases which illustrate engaging evidence of guilt, that does not indicate that there are no defenses to possession with intent to deliver charges in drug arrests.
Intent to deliver drugs is not a light charge, the category of which is almost always a felony; although, it is usually set by the number of grams of the drug that are in the individual’s possession or were supplied. For instance, a possession with the intent to deliver methamphetamine or cocaine is a class II felony that carries 1-50 years in prison. Having said that, relying on the amount consisted of, those penalties can increase to 3-50 years, 5-50 years or 20-life. Possession with the intent to deliver marijuana is a class III felony that carries 1-20 years in prison and as much as a $10,000 fine.
The possibility of prison time may be high for these kinds of drug busts. That is the reason why employing a skilled law agency is necessary. With no proper representation, your civil liberties may be disregarded and your trial outcome grim.
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