Drug charges can be filed in either state or federal court. Drug trafficking is typically charged in federal court when multiple jurisdictions or large amounts of drugs are involved. This appears to be the case for a federal court indictment involving 20 people who are accused of being in a drug ring. The 20 individuals were charged with distributing heroin in Queens, Suffolk and Nassau County. Police claim the defendants illegally used storage facilities in Brooklyn.
The FBI reported that the individuals who were arrested were from a wide range of demographics. Among those arrested on drug charges are a retired police officer and his daughter, a married couple, a college student and a woman who is accused of distributing drugs in the parking lot of her family's restaurant. Police claim the so-called drug ring goes by the name Perez Organization.
Federal and state law enforcement agencies used wire taps and undercover buys to acquire evidence, and apparently more than 20 kilograms of heroin were seized. Police claim the estimated value is $2.75 million.
The FBI report did not indicate exactly what relationship, if any, various members of this alleged ring have with one another. In a large drug bust such as this one, it is not uncommon for one or two implicated individuals to cooperate with the authorities in exchange for favorable treatment from the prosecution.
The defendants in this case are up against very serious charges that will require a vigorous defense. If convicted, each of the defendants could face a mandatory 10-year sentence with a maximum of life in prison. Even so, the full burden of proof rests squarely on the prosecution, and not everyone who is accused of a drug crime is guilty.
Source: FBI, Alleged Members of a Heroin Trafficking Organization Indicted on Long Island," March 13, 2012