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Gas Station Owner Indicted On MDMA Trafficking Charges

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A gas station owner is one of eight who have been indicted on charges of running an MDMA trafficking ring. MDMA is better known by its street name, ecstasy or molly. 44-year-old Jacksonville native Kimberly Walker is believed to be the shot caller for what federal authorities are describing as a drug trafficking enterprise. Walker is believed to be responsible for ensuring that drugs were delivered to a stash house in the area. She is also the first African American woman to own a BP gas station in the area.

Federal authorities intercepted phone conversations between Walker and others who were involved in the operation. They set up buys with confidential informants at the trap house where the drugs were stashed. A combination of controlled stings involving drug purchases and surveillance led to Walker’s indictment.

Financial irregularities 

The IRS was among the agencies involved in the arrest and may have given federal prosecutors all the red flags they needed to begin an investigation. Kimberly Walker and her husband, Neal Walker passed more than $1 million in cash between various bank accounts without recording a legitimate source of income. The IRS came to believe that the couple was gaining their capital from drug trafficking and laundering the money through various LLCs including the gas station owned by Kimberly Walker. Meanwhile, despite large sums of money being deposited into their bank accounts, neither filed a tax return since 2018.

The suspicious financial activity is likely what triggered the investigation. It was then only a matter of surveilling her phones and setting up a buy. There will be questions as to whether or not the investigation was conducted legally. Federal authorities will require valid warrants for the surveillance. Without surveillance linking Walker to the stash house and buyers, it may be difficult to pursue a prosecution.

Potential defenses 

The train of thought moved like this: The IRS saw financial irregularities including income deposits that did not correspond with any known source of legitimate income. This triggers an investigation conducted by other agencies. Where did the money come from? Or, better yet, is the fact that the money has no legitimate trace enough to get a warrant against an individual for drug trafficking.

To begin the process of conducting surveillance, the government must have probable cause. Do IRS records give the government probable cause? Maybe, but the government has to know what they’re looking for specifically. They cannot surveil people just to make sure they’re not doing anything illegal. They must describe the conversation to be intercepted and the time periods they will be surveilling. In certain cases, the government may proceed without a warrant, but they must prove that the circumstances are dire enough to forgo the Constitution. This case may come down to the validity of the warrant and whether or not IRS documents give the federal government authority to conduct drug trafficking surveillance.

Talk to a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Today 

The Tampa criminal attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm are skilled professionals. If you are facing charges issued by the federal government, then you need an attorney capable of trying cases in federal court. Call our office today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how we can help.

Resource:

news4jax.com/news/local/2021/06/04/jacksonville-gas-station-owner-among-8-indicted-on-drug-trafficking-charges/

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