New York police recently arrested and charged a man with heading an extremely profitable drug distribution ring that allegedly trafficked marijuana and ketamine, an animal tranquilizer.

The man is one of 13 people facing drug charges for allegedly selling marijuana, charges that stem from a 10-month long investigation by authorities. The investigation used both wiretaps and electronic surveillance. The distribution ring allegedly purchased marijuana from farmers in other states and had it delivered to Long Island. They also allegedly purchased ketamine from a website based in China.

Drug trafficking is an offense that is punished by both federal and state authorities. The severity of the punishment varies by the drug type, the amount distributed, the geographic area of the distribution and whether the drugs were sold to minors. Those convicted of this offense usually face stiff penalties including jail time, substantial fines and a felony conviction, which can have negative consequences for employment or immigration.

An issue in prosecuting drug trafficking cases is whether the evidence was obtained legally. For contraband to be legally seized, it must obtained with a valid search warrant or under one of a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement. The contraband cannot be used if the police had no warrant and no probable cause to search the defendant’s person, home or automobile. This is to guard against a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures. It’s worth exploring if law enforcement’s surveillance tactics were legal.

With this many people arrested, it’s also worth investigating whether anyone was mistakenly arrested simply because they showed up on any surveillance. It’s not unreasonable to think that someone was mistakenly arrested.

Source: DeerPark-NorthBabylon Patch, “Deer Park Man Facing Drug Distribution Charges,” Greg Sleter, October 23, 2012