On Aug. 7, federal authorities issued four indictments against alleged members of an outlaw motorcycle gang in California called the Vagos. Most of the individuals charged in the indictment are residents of Sacramento, but the motorcycle gang that they are connected to is believed to have chapters across the U.S. and Mexico. The investigation was focused on three Sacramento-area chapters of the gang that are suspected of being involved in drug trafficking.
Law enforcement authorities will often go to great lengths, and utilize very aggressive tactics, to charge someone with a criminal offense. As the stakes in their efforts get higher, they may make some questionable -- and sometimes legally suspect -- decisions to try and get what they want. And when the federal agencies are at the center of these efforts, there can be large amounts of money, resources and the reputation of officers involved.
Ten people have been accused of drug trafficking near a school in San Francisco, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. If convicted, maximum sentencing could mean up to 40 years in prison and up to a $2 million fine, with a minimum of one year spent in jail. Jail time may be followed by supervised release, which can range from six months to life.
Federal charges have been brought against 20 alleged members of a notorious gang on the west side of downtown Los Angeles. The gang is known as the Mara Salvatrucha gang, often called the MS-13 gang. This particular gang allegedly has several thousand estimated members nationwide as well as in Mexico. They are well-known, according to authorities, for Mexican Mafia ties and alleged brutality.
Two men and one woman were taken into custody after the Sacramento Sheriff's Department served search warrants on a residence in the 8000 block of Voula Way in Wilton on Sept. 25. Police officers allegedly seized one shotgun, two handguns, more than 100 marijuana plants and more than $80,000 in cash. The three people were cited with drug charges in connection with suspected cultivation and sale of marijuana.
A California Highway Patrol officer was watching for cell phone violators when he stopped a driver using his phone. The officer smelled marijuana in the car and a subsequent search found two pounds of marijuana and $15,000. The suspect was booked in the Marin County Jail and faces drug charges regarding selling and transporting marijuana for sale. However, it turns out the man is also facing other charges from 2007. It is alleged that the man and his brother were using their business, known as either The Compassionate Patient's Collective or The Compassionate Collective of Alameda County, as a cover for a large drug trafficking organization.
A 56-year-old man from Mexico has entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and possession of methamphetamine. He was allegedly part of a plan to sell approximately 4 kilograms of methamphetamine in Oakland. Another man involved in the case has also entered a guilty plea to drug charges. The Mexican national admits to meeting with an individual in Oakland and showing him drugs stashed in a speaker inside the trunk. He faces life and prison and a $10,000 fine. The details of the other man's sentencing aren't known at this time.
A California man who brought cocaine into another state received a sentence of 13 years for drug charges recently. He was one in a group of three men who were caught during a raid in January 2011.
We all know how seriously police in California and throughout the country take drug crimes. Often police and federal agencies spend years investigating a group of people before they make any arrests. Once arrests are made, defendants could be facing years in prison on top of other penalties.