A drug cartel is loosely defined as any organization that is deeply invested in the trade of drug trafficking, including individual dealers, small street gangs and large mafia-affiliated organizations. Drug cartels have the immense ability to affect the communities that they are located in. Not only are the members of cartels involved in the drug trade, but they are also often associated with additional crimes that are meant to increase their influence. This influence can be dangerous, since people that are not involved in the cartel can be coerced to commit certain acts they otherwise wouldn't as a result.
The law has become more and more harsh to those involved with drugs, and especially if someone is also involved with a drug cartel. Cartels usually find themselves involved in activities that are not directly related to drugs but are criminal in nature. For example, the more influence a cartel has, the more likely they are to commit assault and battery, money laundering, fraud, theft, gambling, and bribery, to name a few common crimes.
How are drug cartels punished under the law?
Many cartel members have become in-tune to the law and the myriad of ways that prosecutors seek to bring down cartel practices. As a result, members will hone their specialties so they can only be charged with one type of crime if discovered by police. This also works as a tactic to ensure the survival of the organization and accept the knowns sentencing for the one type of crime. Prosecutors attempt to increase the penalties for crimes so that members of the cartel will accept plea bargains in lieu of prison.
Prosecutors attempt to force cartel members to accept plea bargains by:
- Conspiracy: This charge means that someone helped another person commit a crime and can affect someone that has only had a minimal role in another crime.
- Double charges: State and federal charges can be applied to crimes that are illegal under both state and federal laws, allowing them to be charged separately.
- Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act: This is a federal law meant to increase the penalties of those found to commit a crime in compliance with a drug cartel and is meant to heavily punish anyone that may have simply given an order.
Since even a small operation can be considered a drug cartel in the eyes of the law, anyone that has been accused of a drug crime should speak with a drug crime attorney right away. Having legal defense on your side can help to develop the best possible case.
For a free initial consultation with Mark Morash, Attorney at Law, call today.