In a large-scale drug bust, law enforcement officers from state and federal agencies arrested 42 individuals on Chicago’s west side. Those arrested include 16 who will face federal charges and 26 facing Illinois state charges. The arrests were made as part of an investigation by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force.
The federal charges include conspiracy, distribution or possession with intent to distribute narcotics. Importantly, the complaints note that a half-kilogram of heroin was seized during the arrest and more than one and a half kilograms of heroin had been seized during the investigation.
The weight of the drug seized is significant because amounts greater than 1 kilogram trigger increased mandatory minimum sentences. For 100-999 grams, a first time charge brings a minimum sentence of 5 years, ranging up to 40 years and a fine of no more than $5 million.
With more than a kilogram of heroin, the minimum sentence doubles to 10 years and can go as high as a life sentence. The fines likewise double to $10 million. The seriousness of these charges is underscored by the fact that if a defendant has two or more prior offenses, the mandatory minimum sentence becomes life. And in the federal system, there is no parole, so life for heroin trafficking is life.
The primary defendants in these cases are facing mandatory minimums of 10 years to life and $10 million fines.
Because of the scale of these seizures and arrests, it is likely that the search warrants were well drafted and comprehensive. For a defendant facing these types of charges, their best defense often involves discovering errors or flaws in the search warrant or procedural errors by the members of the law enforcement task force during the execution of the warrants and the resulting arrests.
Enewspf.com, “42 Defendants Facing State Or Federal Drug Charges For Allegedly Selling Heroin On City’s West Side,” June 25, 2015