It's not my job as your attorney to tell you what you want to hear, it’s to tell you what you need to know
San Diego Drug Violations Law Blog
Federal and state agents continue to make dramatic marijuana arrests in California despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal and even though a ballot measure asking the public to legalize pot is imminent. Although most California lawmakers and office holders favor some form of legalization, this fact also has not visibly dampened the fervor of law enforcement authorities. They apparently are continuing to invest substantial resources in the war against marijuana.
Additionally, they continue to announce raids for the seizure of marijuana plants as fervently as if the drug was as dangerous as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. In one such raid, three men were arrested in La Mesa recently after DEA agents seized 250 marijuana plants that were allegedly growing in the suspects' private home. Officials made a point to emphasize that the home was set up to extract hashish oil from the growing plants. The procedure for extracting hash oil has reportedly resulted in explosions due to the volatility of the extraction process.
Whenever drugs are found in a car after a traffic stop, the first thing that defense counsel must do is determine the validity of the stop itself. The police cannot randomly stop a car and then later assign the reason for the stop as being a traffic violation. There must be a legitimate traffic violation observed prior to pulling the car over under California and federal constitutional law. If that is not done, drug crimes charged after the illegitimate traffic stop will generally have to be dismissed.
Thus, the general rule is that a car cannot be stopped by the police without prior "reasonable suspicion" of a crime or traffic violation taking place. In Santa Rosa recently, California Highway Patrol officers pulled over a car that they said had darkly tinted front windows and no rear license plate. The stop resulted in the arrest of its four occupants after police allegedly smelled marijuana smoke as they approached the car. They also say that the driver, who had a suspended license since 2006, handed the officers a small package of marijuana.
Instead of crack houses, California authorities may be focusing more on closing down meth houses in recent months. The increased law enforcement focus on methamphetamine manufacture and sales seems generally to be a national trend. In San Diego County on a recent weekend Sheriff's deputies raided a property in Lakeside, arrested eight people on various drug crime charges and condemned the real estate.
The condemnation should assure authorities that the property will not be easily used for drug activities in the future. Sheriff's deputies went to a property on Winter Gardens Boulevard at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning fully equipped with a search warrant. Although there were 18 people originally detained, the police ended up arresting seven adults and one juvenile on a variety of charges, most predominantly related to illegal drugs.
A recreational marijuana referendum in California is in the works for presentation to the voters in Nov. 2016. Currently, a blue-ribbon panel chaired by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has published its 93-page report that sets forth various general considerations and issues identified for further resolution. The report is presented as a group of options on marijuana legalization rather than a detailed floor plan.
According to Newsom, who supports legalization, it was felt that any law that is voted on could be fine-tuned as the issues come better into focus and the facts are more fully fleshed out. One general conclusion of the 24-member panel was that the new legalization policy should not dwell on how to turn the industry into a major tax base for the state. One of the major issues will be how to set up licensing for growers and sellers of the product.
Happy Valley in Shasta County was not living up to its name on Tuesday evening, July 14, when police received reports of someone shooting from a moving vehicle. The shooting reportedly occurred on Happy Valley Road. Police reported that the caller described the vehicle, which police allegedly stopped a short time later. They arrested the driver and his passenger, both California residents, on drug crime charges relating to methamphetamine possession.
Deputies say that they stopped the vehicle on Bohn Boulevard because it fit the description reported by the caller. The police searched the driver and his passenger, and they also searched the car. They allegedly found an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine, scales and drug paraphernalia.
It is no longer unusual to see authorities charge a practicing physician with drug charges. Such cases usually concern the alleged illegal writing of prescriptions for controlled drugs, although some cases also involve the doctor's personal addiction. In a recent California arrest and prosecution, a doctor from Ranch Palos Verdes is accused of the drug crime of writing illegal prescriptions for controlled drugs to undercover agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
He is charged with 21 felony counts of unlawful controlled substance prescription. The essence of the charges is that he allegedly made out the prescriptions without having established a medical need to do so. The prescriptions involved Norco, a pain medication; Xanax, a tranquilizer; and Soma, a muscle relaxant.
In 2014, federal authorities discovered several tunnels that were used to get drugs from the Mexican side of the border into the United States. A 74-year-old California woman who was implicated in the operation of one of those underground passageways was recently sentenced in federal court in San Diego to five years of probation. Authorities apparently suspected her involvement in the drug trafficking operation, but she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money and was fined $1,500 for her role in leasing the property along with two men that she knew.
Agents found the 600-yard tunnel in April 2014. It started in Tijuana, Mexico and surfaced in an industrial warehouse in south San Diego. Federal agents reported that it was equipped with lights and a simple conveyor system to move large quantities of marijuana. It is unclear why the woman pleaded guilty to money laundering. It also appears from the public reports that she was not directly implicated in any drug trafficking activities.
In California and elsewhere, when a street drug operation gets too conspicuous, it may attract unwanted attention and complaints to the local authorities about suspect activities. The police may respond by attempting to make repeated arrests for drug sales and other drug crimes in the reported area. This will tend to have a chilling effect on the suspected activities and may clean them up substantially.
Sting operations in Santa Cruz were recently carried out for similar reasons. According to the Santa Cruz deputies' office, they received complaints from residents about drug sales and suspicious activity near the San Lorenzo River levee. Police say that they responded with undercover purchases from suspects who were arrested.
In order to make an arrest, law enforcement officials must first establish that they have probable cause to detain an individual. When reviewing the circumstances surrounding an arrest, a person's criminal defense counsel will first determine whether probable cause existed. This could be an important part of one man's case since he now faces California drug charges that stem from an investigation into a theft at a retail store.
According to reports, police were investigating a theft at a Kmart when the 29-year-old man was detained. When police ran his name through the system, it was discovered that a misdemeanor arrest warrant had been issued against him. He allegedly failed to appear in court regarding an arrest for drug paraphernalia.
Authorities have reported one of the "larger" drug busts in recent history in connection with the recent arrest of four men and two women in Southern California. So far, the street value of the cocaine seized from this purported drug crime operation is allegedly worth over $35 million. It terms of wholesale value, it would be worth about $8.2 million.
Authorities indicate that they have been conducting surveillance against the operation for the past month. This led to the arrest initially of three people in a car in San Bernardino with 55 kilograms of cocaine in the vehicle. According to authorities, those arrests led to information linking to a home in Santa Fe Springs, where another 255 kilograms were seized in the garage. Three others were arrested there.
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