Twenty-one people were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana in Brunswick, Georgia federal court, according to an article on News4Jax.com. A few of them were also indicted on related weapons charges. The indictments were the result of a lengthy investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Glyn Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement team and the FBI. According to the article, each of the twenty-one defendants faces a minimum 10 year prison sentence and up to life in prison along with significant fines and forfeiture of their property.
Drug cases such as these are not uncommon in federal court. Many drug conspiracy cases involve multiple defendants because of the way the crime is charged. We see conspiracy charged in federal court quite often in drug cases because it can be an easier charge to prove. In order to prove conspiracy to distribute or manufacture illegal drugs, the federal prosecutors do not have to prove that each defendant actually sold the drugs, was involved in manufacturing the drugs (in methamphetamine cases) or actually grew the drugs (in marijuana cases). The federal government merely has to prove that the particular defendant knowingly and intentionally agreed or worked with at least one other defendant to distribute, manufacture or grow the drugs. Depending on the case, this can be a lot easier to prove than proving actual drug selling, drug manufacturing or drug growing on the part of each person charged. A conspiracy to commit a federal drug crime can involve significantly more conduct than just selling, manufacturing or growing, and the conspiracy charge can cover a lot of different people that had some known relationship to the operation, even when that person’s relationship to the operation is minor.
While the evidence that is needed to prove a conspiracy can be less than what is required to prove an actual hands-on drug charge, the penalties are often the same. As the article indicates, the conspiracy charge can come with severe penalties just like drug selling, manufacturing and growing charges. As a result, a person who was only tangentially involved (i.e. just handled the money or provided some of the materials used to set up the operation) can face a 10 year minimum prison sentence just like the person who actually sold the drugs.
If you have questions about a drug case, whether it is a federal felony drug conspiracy charge or a state drug charge, the law office of Shorstein & Lasnetski, LLC in Jacksonville, Florida handles all criminal cases in Florida and Georgia. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.