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ICE rounds up 10 on alleged trafficking and extortion charges

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an investigation by the agency has led to the indictment of 10 alleged gang members in Northern California on charges of extortion and drug trafficking. The federal indictment was unsealed on Feb. 13.

The indictments reportedly followed a five-year long investigation that was conducted by agents with the Homeland Security Investigations unit. Seven of the defendants were charged with a conspiracy to extort drug dealers by threatening the dealers and others who were close to them with violence unless the dealers gave up property. The remaining three defendants were charged with allegedly engaging in a conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine. They were charged with conspiring to traffic 50 grams or more of the drug since March 2015.

All of the defendants were alleged to be associated with the Santa Cruz Salvatrucha 13 Locos, a reportedly violent street gang. Law enforcement authorities arrested all 10 of the defendants on Feb. 13 in Daly City, Santa Cruz and Watsonville.

While all drug offenses may bring penalties if a conviction is obtained, drug trafficking charges are especially serious. People who are charged with trafficking large amounts of methamphetamine may face years in prison. If they are not citizens, they may also face deportation even if they are lawful U.S. residents. People who are charged with drug offenses may need the help of experienced criminal defense lawyers who might identify problems with the way that the investigations were conducted or the manner in which searches and seizures were performed. Legal counsel may also be able to challenge their clients' participation in conspiracies or negotiate pleas to reduced charges or to sentences with caps on the potential lengths of imprisonment.

Source: ICE, "ICE-led probe leads to indictment of 10 alleged Northern California gang members on drug trafficking and extortion charges," Feb. 14, 2017

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