Recently, over fifteen people in central New York were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to smuggle millions of dollars' worth of cocaine into the country. The conspiracy was detected by law enforcement using wiretaps on the defendants' phones, although it is unclear whether or not the wiretaps were supported by a warrant or by probable cause.
The indictment alleges that the drug ring supposedly operated by the defendants would have brought in approximately $3.8 million worth of cocaine into central New York. The indictment states that four kilograms of cocaine, seven guns, drug paraphernalia and $55,000 in cash have been recovered. Two of the defendants were charged with weapons possession in addition to the drug charges.
If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, with a maximum sentence of forty years, and a $5 million fine. The defendants also face consequences after their release from prison; there is a requirement of at least four years of parole after release.
In addition to jail time and fines, the defendants must comply with court-ordered conditions for their pre-trial release. For example, they must refrain from excessive use of alcohol and participate in a court-ordered substance abuse program. They must attend all mandatory court proceedings, and submit to random drug and alcohol tests. They must maintain employment or education, and must remain at all times within the jurisdiction of the federal court.
Drug offenses such as the one discussed are not prosecuted lightly at any level of government, so defendants face serious, life-altering charges. However, they do have the right to contest the charges in a court of law. They have a right to challenge the evidence or the constitutionality of the charges against them, the court proceedings, or the conduct of law enforcement in procuring the evidence. Defendants in drug cases are entitled to a presumption of innocence, like any other criminal defendants, until proven guilty.
Source: The Palladium Times, "Police Take Down CNY Drug Ring," Janet Rebeor-Dexter, Aug. 1, 2012