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Law enforcement arrest dozen in marijuana trafficking sweep

Posted on June 25, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Local law enforcement shut down almost 50 marijuana "grow houses" last week. The massive marijuana trafficking sweep was conducted by local, state and federal law enforcement authorities. Police officers seized more than 2,300 marijuana plants, along with oxycodone pills, cocaine, and several firearms. They also seized $9,500 in cash and an automobile. In total 42, people were arrested and will likely be represented by Miami criminal lawyers. The marijuana seized had an estimated street value of $9.4 million. The Miami-Dade led investigation also revealed information leading to a grow house bust in Vero Beach which netted 220 plants with an estimated street value of $2.4 million. The marijuana trafficking sweep was planned and leg by a federal initiative of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking program. The program provides local law enforcement with additional resources to fight illegal drugs in certain parts of the country.

Anyone arrested for marijuana trafficking or having assets seized by the police should seek the assistance of a Miami drug trafficking lawyer with experience appearing in civil court to seek the return of cash and other personal property. In drug trafficking cases, property can be seized by the police department if the cash can be linked to the drug trafficking operation. For example, of a large amount of cash is found inside a "grow house" law enforcement will seek to keep the money. If the marijuana is being transported inside a vehicle, either a car or boat, law enforcement can seek to keep that property as well.

Asset forfeiture cases occur in civil court. The police must first notify the person that they intend on keeping the seized property. The lawyer representing that person has two options. First, an agreement can sometimes be reached with law enforcement whereby they agree to return a portion of the seized property. Secondly, a person can request a probable cause hearing within 15 days of the seizure. You and you asset forfeiture lawyer would appear before a civil circuit court judge and argue that there is no probable linking the seized property to a drug trafficking operation. If the judge finds no probable cause, the person will get all of his or her property back.

Depending on the strength of the drug trafficking case, an asset forfeiture may be the least of a person's problems. Defendants caught with more than 25 pounds or marijuana can and will be charged with marijuana trafficking. The charge is a first degree felony carrying up to 30 years in prison. The charge also carries a 3 year minimum mandatory sentence which in nutshell means the court can offer nothing less than that in terms of a plea. Additionally, prosecutors in state court generally do not like to offer anything less than the 3 year prison term as well. Skilled criminal attorneys have the ability to obtain better plea offers or even dismissals if the police conducted an illegal search and seizure of the evidence or conducted an illegal stop of a vehicle. The 4th Amendment to the Constitutions provides many safeguards to defendants which must be taken advantage of to properly defend any drug trafficking case.

Police Raid Marijuana Grow Houses in Massive Sweep, The Miami Herald.com, June 18, 2010.
Categories: Asset Forfeitures