September 26, 2019 | Drug Crimes
Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials in California announced on Sept. 19 that a major narcotics investigation has led to the indictment of 85 suspects and the seizure of significant quantities of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl. U.S. attorneys say the suspects, most of whom are already in custody according to reports, distributed drugs throughout San Diego County and laundered money for the Sinaloa narcotics cartel.
The investigation, which lasted for almost a year, initially focused on street-level drug dealers. A man who was in custody awaiting extradition to Mexico provided law enforcement with information that was used to conduct several undercover narcotics buys. The suspects identified during the drug buys were then monitored using sophisticated wiretapping techniques. Additional wiretaps were authorized as the scale of the organization was revealed.
The information gathered bore fruit on Sept. 13 when a grand jury handed down indictments against 85 individuals. Police and federal agents then began a series of operations to apprehend the individuals. Search warrants were also executed at eight locations in Southern California and Alaska. Police say the searches led to the seizure of 175 pounds of methamphetamine and undisclosed quantities of heroin and fentanyl. Police and agents also allegedly seized $50,000 in U.S. currency and an SUV said to be worth more than $100,000.
Federal and state law enforcement agencies tend to cast a wide net in investigations like this one. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may explain to clients charged with committing serious drug crimes that the standard of proof in grand jury proceedings is not nearly as strict as it is in a jury trial. Prosecutors must only establish probable cause to obtain a grand jury indictment. In court, guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.