2016…Feds targeting street level heroin and crack dealers in Manatee

20150617-074The DEA and ATF branches of the federal government have teamed up with the Sheriff in Manatee and started indicting street level heroin dealers. Although it is basically a crime normally enforced by local law enforcement, in the latest arrests it was run through the Federal system and the indictments were returned in Federal Court in Tampa. As a former Federal prosecutor I can tell you exactly why they are doing this. They want to get the benefit of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines which jacks up the penalties a lot. The men charged were arrested based on low level street sales of grams of heroin and crack. This is not a case involving multi kilos of drugs like you normally see the Feds involved in. The other reason they use the Federal laws is because of the enhancement possibilities. If a person has a prior drug conviction and then gets charged in a new case federally, the penalties go through the roof. You could have a minor drug conviction from before, but if you then get a later federal drug charge, the penalties go sky high. If you have two prior drug charges, you can get life.
Sadly, many times the Federal charges involve minorities including blacks and Hispanics. I have always felt that a better approach to the drug problem is some form of legalization. Addicts are going to use until they can get real medical help. Drug addiction is a sickness that causes crime.
So many crimes are committed to get the money to buy drugs. If we legalized some of the drugs, at least there would not be the financial motive and some of the collateral crime could be eliminated. I suspect the Federal involvement and the crackdown is because of the out of control murder rate in Manatee. Defending crimes in Federal court is the big league. Not all criminal lawyers are experienced in defending federal cases and not all lawyers are admitted to practice in Federal Court. As a former federal agent and former federal prosecutor, I understand the system and why and how the Feds do things. If a loved one is under indictment or under investigation for a Federal crime, call 941 366 3506 for a free consultation

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