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Drug charges filed against alleged street gang for marijuana

Louisiana law enforcement agencies are cracking down on street gang activities. In addition to recent arrests by State Police of seven accused gang members on drug charges, the offenses alleged include a new twist. The suspects are accused of engaging in reckless ATV "Ride Outs" that have allegedly caused fatal crashes and hundreds of other dangerous traffic situations.

Authorities say that the suspects used the stolen vehicles to commit numerous burglaries. They charged each suspect with burglary, theft of motor vehicles and possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance. The investigation culminated in a raid that involved a search of seven residences, presumably with duly issued search warrants.

The searches resulted in the alleged seizure of illegal weapons, stolen vehicles, and nearly one pound of marijuana. The police allege that they also found several burglary tools, two burglary masks, and $4,000 in cash. They reported that the investigation is ongoing and further arrests are expected. The investigation utilized the combined resources of state and federal agencies.

Criminal defense counsel will first determine whether a search warrant was obtained for each search. If warrants were obtained, counsel will examine the affidavits carefully to determine whether there was probable cause established. In particular, information from unidentifiable sources is not sufficient to support a finding of probable cause. Clearly, there were no undercover agents or informants who purchased drugs from the suspects or the charges would have been for distribution.

The drug charges involve possession with intent to deliver, indicating that the offense is based solely on the quantity of drug that was allegedly found. Louisiana still has Draconian laws regarding marijuana, but possession of small amounts was recently made less severe. Possession of more than 14 grams and less than 2 1/2 pounds now carries a maximum sentence of six months for a first offense. One other potential defense here is that the marijuana was apparently found in only one location, making it difficult to associate all defendants with possession of the drug. That same reasoning could apply to the evidence of burglaries, the stolen vehicles and the weapons.

Source: fox8live.com, "State Police: 7 arrested in gang activity involving reckless ATV", Chris Finch, May 18, 2018

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