DEA Conducts Designer Drug Raids in 29 States, Including Texas

There has been a great deal of public debate in recent times concerning federal drug crime sentencing reform. In the last entry, this blog discussed the issue of mandatory minimum sentence reform. Lawmakers in the legislative branch of government and policymakers in the executive branch of government have been considering reducing overall populations in federal prisons related to drug crimes.

It is important to note that the recent debate over prosecutorial discretion in charging related to mandatory minimum sentencing and similar sentencing reform topics does not mean that federal authorities are relaxing their enforcement of federal drug crime laws. The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted raids this week in 29 states, including Texas, seeking to find evidence to pursue federal drug charges. There is no question that the federal government is still vigorously and actively pursuing drug crime.

The recent coordinated crackdown involved more than 200 locations nationwide where law enforcement agents conducted raids related to synthetic compounds that the DEA believes violate federal drug laws. Authorities have been ramping up efforts to control compounds that are frequently referred to as bath salts, K2, spice and a variety of other monikers that federal officials say have been gaining in popularity in recent years, especially among teens.

In the raids, which began on Wednesday morning, federal authorities arrested more than 150 people who could face federal indictments for alleged drug crimes. The laws surrounding so-called “Designer Drugs” in Texas, and at the federal level, involve a complex area of criminal law.

For instance, at the federal level, Congress has identified 26 compounds that are designated as unlawful drugs. However, federal laws provide authorities with other tools to pursue drug charges based upon compounds that do not necessarily fall directly within the chemical structure of the compounds recognized by Congress.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy says that the DEA will from-time-to time exercise emergency authority to expand the list of compounds that are deemed to be illegal substances. Prosecutors may also seek to expand the list of controlled substances under the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act on the theory that a synthetic substance is chemically or pharmacologically similar enough to a listed controlled substance to warrant prosecution.

It is important for a person suspected of a federal drug offense to consider seeking the help of a criminal defense lawyer who can help protect rights against the vast resources of the government.

Source: The Washington Post, “DEA raids synthetic drug manufacturers in a major nationwide crackdown,” Abby Phillip, May 7, 2014

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