Articles Posted in Drug crimes

Published on:

Gayden’s career as a doctor ended after law enforcement began investigating his medical practice following tips that he was prescribing excessive amounts of Oxycodone. Drug Enforcement Agents reviewed his prescription records through the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and discovered that Gayden had a history of irregular prescribing practices including issuing scripts for opioids in higher quantities or greater potency and in greater frequency than the norm. The DEA issued a search warrant for his patient records. Through recordings made by undercover patient who visited his office they discovered long lines of patients waiting to get into Gayden’s office. Investigators also learned that Gayden insisted on cash only for his services.

Just before the five-year statute of limitations ran, a federal grand jury indicted Gayden on seven counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. section 841(a)(1). Gayden was convicted following a jury trial and sentenced to 235 months in prison.

Continue reading

Published on:

Latecia Watkins was a supervisor at the Boca Raton, Florida, Post Office when she was arrested on for importing more than five kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Here is how it unfolded.

Two packages from Trinidad and Tobago addressed to the Boca Raton Post Office were intercepted at the international mail facility and found to contain cocaine. Law enforcement agents removed the drugs and placed a GPS tracking device with sham cocaine into the packages and put both packages into the mail stream headed to the original destinations.

The agents monitored the GPS and the Post Office’s internal tracking system. They set up surveillance of the Boca Raton Post Office the morning of August 11, 2017 when they expected the packages to be delivered. The GPS device stopped working but they were able to track the packages by the Post Office tracking system. They began to realize some strange occurrences because one of the packages addressed to a Boca Raton post office which did not have a P.O. box number was accepted without the number. Normally a package could not be received unless the addressee had a rented a post office box. The agents then suspected an inside job and the suspect was most likely a supervisor and not just an employee because a postal employee would not have access to certain aspects of the scanning system to manipulate the tracking history of the package.

Continue reading

Published on:

 

A group of brothers, relatives, and friends who operated a drug trafficking organization in Bradenton, Florida, were charged and convicted of participating in a RICO conspiracy, a drug conspiracy, and gun crimes. The defendants raised two issues in this appeal. First, whether the RICO conspiracy qualified as a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. 924(c) and second, whether one of the defendant’s sentence was procedurally and substantively reasonable.

The defendants challenging the 924(c) conviction. Section 924(c) which makes it a crime to use, carry, or discharge a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. The defendants argued here that the RICO conspiracy is not a “crime of violence”.   The statute defines a crime of violence as a felony offense that (a) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another (the elements clause) or (b) that by its nature involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense (the residual clause).

 

Continue reading

Published on:

Dixon is an appeal by four defendants who participated in a drug conspiracy in the Little Havana area of Miami. Calling themselves the Big Money Team, they were a gang of drug dealers who also committed robberies and illegally possessed guns. Following a jury trial, they were convicted of drug trafficking, firearm possession, armed robbery, assault and conspiracy to distribute 280 grams of cocaine base. Defendant Chacon received a 420-month sentence, Defendant Altamirano was given 235 months followed by Dixon who received 144 months.

In challenging the conspiracy conviction, the defendants argued that the government failed to prove the existence of a single conspiracy to sell drugs. Each defendant argued that the evidence failed to establish that he joined the conspiracy. They also challenged the sufficiency of the evidence about the quantity of drugs they conspired to distribute. The court of appeals disagreed because it found the government presented ample evidence of a single conspiracy to sell drugs by the members of the Big Money Team through the “traps” maintained by members of the team where they sold drugs, shared customers, kept lookout for one another and cooperated to supply drugs consumers demanded. Even though drugs were sold at different locations, there was an interrelatedness of the operation.   Even though the government did not establish that the conspiracy had an internal control structure, the evidence did suggest an unofficial hierarchy with Chacon and Altamirano as the top guys who called the shots.

Continue reading

Published on:

Stephon Williams was convicted of federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. 846 following a jury trial in a Georgia federal court. Williams was charged with conspiring with his codefendant Donterius Toombs who also went trial with Williams. The government called a witness named Bennet to testify at their trial.

At the time of this trial Bennet was appealing his drug conviction by challenging his sentence enhancement for an obstruction of justice for sending a letter to Toombs, Williams’ coconspirator, asking him to cooperate on Bennett’s in exchange for a substantial payment and to market a cooperation-for-hire scheme to inmates seeking sentence reductions. The attorney representing Williams at his trial was also representing Bennet on his sentence enhancement challenge in the Eleventh Circuit court of appeals.

In his testimony Bennet did not mention Williams by name but he supported the government’s case against both Williams and Toombs by directly describing and by corroborating other witnesses’ testimony concerning the drug distribution conspiracy alleged in the indictment. In his direct examination, Bennet made no mention of his letter to Mr. Toombs or how he had received and obstruction of justice enhancement at sentencing. Toombs’ counsel cross-examined Bennet but did not bring up the topic. Williams’ counsel asked no questions when it came to his turn on cross examination.

Continue reading

Published on:

Defendants Maxi and Bland appealed their convictions for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Their charges followed their arrest at 132 N.E. 64th Street in Miami and the subsequent search incident to arrest at the property. Subsequently a, search warrant was issued and wiretaps were authorized.

Defendant Maxi challenged the search and seizure of drugs from the apartment that took place before the search warrant was issued. The trial court denied the motion and Maxi appealed. As to the standing issue the court found he did have standing to challenge the search because he rented the apartment and had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the duplex.

The next challenge raised concerning the search was that the police illegally entered the curtilage of the duplex when 10 officers surrounded the building at night one with his gun drawn. The government responded that the entry was permissible under the “knock and talk” Rule. The court rejected the knock and talk argument because the rule implies that the police have an owner’s implied permission to approach a home and this was not the case here where. the officers here breached the curtilage of the duplex by many going through a gate in the fence and four or five approaching the door and the rest taking up tactical positions around the exterior. But the constitutional violation did not result in the production of any evidence and there was no evidence to suggest that anything would have turned out differently if a proper knock and talk have been done.   The court also upheld the district court’s finding that Maxi had opened the door voluntarily.

Continue reading

Published on:

George appealed his 259 month sentence imposed after a jury trial resulted in his conviction for conspiracy to engage in drug distribution, Hobbs act robbery, possession of unauthorized access devises, and aggravated identity theft activities. He was acquitted of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

The facts in George’s case began when responded to an advertisement for luxury car rentals and met Pinkow, the owner. Unbeknownst to George, Pinkow, the owner of the car rental company was an informant for the FBI. Pinkow introduced George to Velez, a licensed barber because George expressed and interest in opening a barber salon. The salon did open and was divided into two rooms. The front room contained the barber shop and the back room contained computers, phones, embossing machines, card-scanning machines and items that had nothing to do with the barber business operating in the front room. George also kept a firearm at the front of the salon. Pinkow also rented luxury cars to a man named Banner, a successful drug dealer specializing in marijuana. Pinkow was present when Banner brought duffle bags filled with marijuana to George’s apartment and sold it to George. There was a subsequent sale to George for an amount that exceeded personal use.

Continue reading

Published on:

George appealed his 259 month sentence imposed after a jury trial resulted in his conviction for conspiracy to engage in drug distribution, Hobbs act robbery, possession of unauthorized access devises, and aggravated identity theft activities. He was acquitted of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

The facts in George’s case began when responded to an advertisement for luxury car rentals and met Pinkow, the owner. Unbeknownst to George, Pinkow, the owner of the car rental company was an informant for the FBI. Pinkow introduced George to Velez, a licensed barber because George expressed and interest in opening a barber salon. The salon did open and was divided into two rooms. The front room contained the barber shop and the back room contained computers, phones, embossing machines, card-scanning machines and items that had nothing to do with the barber business operating in the front room. George also kept a firearm at the front of the salon.

Pinkow also rented luxury cars to a man named Banner, a successful drug dealer specializing in marijuana. Pinkow was present when Banner brought duffle bags filled with marijuana to George’s apartment and sold it to George. There was a subsequent sale to George for an amount that exceeded personal use.

Continue reading

Published on:

 

 

Max Jeri was convicted and sentencing for importing 7.95 kilograms of cocaine into the United States after he arrived from Lima Peru at the Miami International Airport.  The evidence produced at trial showed that after his arrival in the Miami Airport a Customs and Border Patrol Officer inspected his luggage and discovered cocaine secreted in various items in his luggage including children’s jackets, notebooks, purses, and pillows. He gave the officers the person for whom he was transporting the items and was a travel agent and a long time friend who offered him a free round trip ticket to Peru and in exchange she asked him to take two bags of merchandise to her sister and to return to New York with the two bags.

He said the items he took to Peru were electronic items toys and shoes. For the return flight the sister went with him to the airport where she showed him the contents of the suitcases, which he checked and boarded the flight to Miami. Following the seizure, Jeri volunteered to make controlled calls to the friend in an attempt to elicit inculpatory comments about the drugs in the suitcase, but the friend repeatedly claimed the bags were clean. The agents attempted to arrange a controlled delivery of the drugs but the person who came to pick up the packages refused to take them.

Continue reading

Published on:

 

In U.S. v. Lopez Hernandez, the defendants appeal their convictions under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA) which criminalizes individuals for possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance while on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. In this case the defendants’ vessel fell under U.S. jurisdiction as a vessel without nationality. The U.S. Coast Guard officers stopped the four defendants in this appeal on board a go-fast boat without a flag in international waters about 120 nautical miles southwest of the El Salvador/Guatemala border in the Pacific Ocean. When the Coast Guard approached the boat, the crewmen began dumping packages overboard that were later found to contain 290 kilograms of cocaine. The four crew members were ultimately arrested. One defendant who identified himself as the captain claimed the boat was registered in Guatemala. The Coast Guard contacted the Guatemalan government which could neither confirm nor deny. With a certification that the ship was without nationality, the Coast Guard determined it had the authority and jurisdiction under the statute to search the boat.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that the Coast Guard had information in their possession indicating the boat was not a vessel without nationality within the meaning of the plain text of the MDLEA.

While the Coast Guard stated that no registration documentation was provided to them prior to contacting the Guatemalan government, they claim they later found registration documents on the ship. The defendants on the other hand claim that the Coast Guard officers had the registration documents before it asked Guatemala about the boat’s registry.

Continue reading

Contact Information