At the end of August, federal authorities busted a major drug distribution ring operating in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. The three-day sting, dubbed “Operation Cookout,” resulted in the arrests of 35 people.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the drug ring had been operating since early March 2016. Apparently, the defendants and four fugitive co-conspirators would obtain cocaine, cocaine base, fentanyl and heroin from suppliers in California, New York and Mexico and ship it to Virginia. The drugs would then be hidden in various locations, including passenger vehicles, trucks, tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles, so it could be prepared for sale. The defendants played various roles within the operation, including financier, supplier, packager, transporter, facilitator and distributor.
During the investigation, officers allegedly seized 30 kilograms of fentanyl, 30 kilograms of heroin and 5 kilograms of cocaine. They also confiscated 24 firearms and over $700,000 in cash. So far, the defendants have been charged with 106 crimes, including conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, cocaine base, fentanyl and heroin. Other charges include conspiracy to launder money, maintaining drug-involved premises, use of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking, interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises, illegal re-entry by a previously deported or removed alien and felon in possession of a firearm.
Federal drug charges can lead to harsh consequences for defendants who are convicted. For example, it is common for drug defendants to be sentenced to years in prison and assessed thousands of dollars in fines. Because the situation is so serious, it might be prudent for defendants to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorney might be able to develop a defense to the accusations and get the charges reduced or dismissed.