Drug crime prosecutions range from relatively straightforward cases alleging that one person possessed illegal drugs to highly complex cases accusing individuals of running a large drug trafficking operation. These more complex cases can come with multiple charges that involve not just the drugs themselves, but also, in many cases, the money the defendants collected as part of their alleged conspiracy. Sometimes these charges apply even to people who never handled the drugs.
Recently, the Department of Justice announced that three business owners in the Kansas City area have been charged with money laundering and many other offenses in connection with an alleged drug trafficking operation. According the the Justice Department, the three defendants operate money-wiring services that help immigrants send money to their home countries. They are among more than 40 people who have been charged in connection to an alleged operation that sold methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl. Thirty-nine people were previously arrested in the investigation.
The three business owners are accused of using their money transfer businesses to send more than $100,000 in profits from the alleged drug operation to Mexico in violation of federal statutes against money laundering. Prosecutors said this amount most likely represents a small percentage of the money the operation made in profit.
The indictment lists more than 100 counts of money laundering and other charges. If convicted, the defendants could face decades in prison. The potential penalties could also include asset forfeiture, meaning that the defendants would be forced to hand over funds they allegedly received through their alleged criminal enterprise. The Department of Justice claims that the defendants could be forced to forfeit over $5 million.
A range of charges
When prosecutors try to crack down on large drug trafficking operations, they often throw a wide net over everyone they think was involved. This can include the alleged kingpins as well as people who were much lower down in the hierarchy of the operation. Sometimes, these prosecutions rope in people who had minimal involvement — or who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Prosecutors are well equipped to win a conviction against anyone, whether it’s someone low or high on the proverbial totem pole. Defendants need all the help they can get in order to stage an effective defense.