A ballot measure legalizing marijuana for recreational use was approved by California voters in November 2016, and opinion polls show that even the residents of traditionally conservative states are beginning to lose patience with the way authorities are waging war on drugs. More and more people view drug use as a public health rather than criminal issue, but that did not prevent law enforcement agencies across the country arresting 1.57 million people for drug-related offenses in 2016 according to FBI crime data.
Suspects arrested in California for what might appear to be a single criminal act sometimes find themselves facing multiple criminal charges. Laws designed to prosecute criminal gangs or drug cartels sometimes enable prosecutors to add charges of conspiracy or racketeering. In some cases, state and federal prosecutors issue separate charges for a single alleged crime.
Four California men were charged with attempted murder and criminal street gang activity on Aug. 1 after they were accused being involved in a shooting that left one person hospitalized. It appeared that the shooting was caused by an argument that turned physical.
A three-year investigation has led the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Security Threat Group to arrest several Mexican prison gang members. The gang reaches far beyond the prison and into the San Diego community. Drug possession, selling drugs and extortion contribute to gang profits.
On June 19, an indictment that charged three California residents with possession of fentanyl with intent to sell was unsealed. The Drug Enforcement Agency reported that three residents were taken into custody after approximately 100 pounds of fentanyl, a drug that is deadly in small doses, was seized. The amount seized was reportedly enough to kill 1.4 million people.
Agents assigned to a Northern California task force have been busy executing search warrants and making arrests in the month of June. An automotive chrome shop was raided by officers from the Shasta Interagency Narcotics Task Force in early June, and the raid resulted in two arrests in addition to the confiscation of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.
A 26-year-old California man has been detained on charges related to possession and transporting narcotics for sale. The man was taken into custody after undercover agents agreed to buy two kilos of what was allegedly synthetic heroin.
On April 14, two California gang members were sentenced to life in prison after a sheriff's department civilian employee was killed by a stray bullet during a gang shootout. The two men, ages 24 and 29, were convicted of first-degree murder in April 2016.
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.
California residents may be interested in learning that, as his final act as president, former president Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 330 inmates. During his presidency, Obama commuted the sentences of 1,715 inmates. Approximately 560 of those inmates were facing life sentences for drug offenses.