An alleged leader of what prosecutors claim is the “most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world” has been returned to New York and now faces federal charges. The 53-year-old man is accused of importing tons of marijuana into the U.S. He has been arraigned and is awaiting his due process.

Reportedly, the man was first arrested on drug charges in 2003. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency had apparently lured the man into Las Vegas, where $11 million in cash and two tons of marijuana were purportedly seized. At that time, the man was indicted on drug charges and conspiracy. Against prosecutors’ wishes, he was released on a $20,000 bond but failed to appear in New York federal court. Prosecutors claim he fled to Mexico.

The man was arrested again in April after an extradition process that involved United States Marshals and Mexican Marine Special Forces. Prosecutors argue that the man is a known flight risk, and that witnesses who are involved in the investigation fear for their safety if he is released on bail.

Extended investigations such as this one often mount up considerable evidence against the accused. Federal law enforcement officials will use every available means of formulating a prosecution that aims to make the charges stick. That is why individuals who are facing drug charges, especially federal drug charges, should be fully aware of the protections afforded by the law to anyone who is accused of such crimes. Even if the charges against a person are intimidating and seemingly insurmountable, it is important to keep in mind the indispensible value of a meaningful and strategic defense. Drug charges can be and often are reduced, if not even dismissed. Police and federal investigators try very hard to produce results that are in favor of conviction, and under New York and federal law, it is only fair that people accused of drug crimes are afforded the same vigorous effort in proving innocence.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Feds say drug cartel leader to face NY charges,” Nov. 9, 2011