Federal Authorities Break Up Drug Ring in Walton County
Authorities have made several arrests in Florida after a multi-agency narcotics investigation brought down a massive drug-trafficking ring in Walton County. Authorities seized 20 pounds of crystal meth, 672 grams of heroin, 162 grams of carfentanyl, and 533 grams of GHB (scarily termed the date-rape drug).
While the arrests keep pouring in, federal authorities said that there are two individuals who are still at large. Some of those arrested in connection with the operation will face federal charges while others will face state charges. Since the task force was composed of both state and federal officials, it looks like the two departments will split the bounty when it comes to prosecutions.
Federal Drug Conspiracy Charges
Some of the individuals are facing federal drug conspiracy charges while others are facing state charges for the same crime. Federal law has a conspiracy charge and a drug conspiracy charge. Conspiracy charges require that a federal prosecutor show that two individuals were engaged in a plan to break the law and then did one act in the furtherance of those aims. Drug conspiracy charges have a lower threshold of proof and harsher sentences with mandatory minimums. This is so that drug conspiracy cases are easier to prosecute and result in longer prison sentences with mandatory minimums of 5 years depending on the drug and weight.
Florida Drug Conspiracy Charges
Like federal conspiracy charges, Florida law requires that two individuals enter into an agreement to perform an unlawful act. If the agreement involves drug trafficking, then it’s considered a drug conspiracy charge.
As stated above, federal law requires that an individual perform some act in the furtherance of the illegal endeavor. Florida law, on the other hand, does not require that proof. However, for a number of reasons, Florida prosecutors tend to use federal laws to punish drug traffickers.
Why Federal Laws are Better for Prosecutors
There are two reasons why national federal law would be preferred by detectives and prosecutors to Florida’s state court laws. Firstly, the burden of proof on the prosecution is lower. Under a state prosecution, the prosecution would have to prove what role a conspirator had in a criminal organization. Under federal law, the prosecution need only prove that the conspirator was a willing participant.
There is a second reason why federal law is preferred. In Florida, a charge of conspiracy is always one degree lower than a charge for a completed crime. In other words, conspiracy to commit a first-degree felony is a second-degree felony, and so on. Under federal law, there is no distinction between conspiring to commit a crime and the actual commission of that crime. So the charges are greater and the sentences are harsher. As well, the charges are easier to prove.
Talk to a Federal Defense Attorney Today
Have you been charged with a crime by the federal government? If so, you need a defense attorney with experience arguing cases in federal court. Call the Tampa criminal attorneys at the Matassini Law Firm today to learn more.