Alabama law enforcement officials arrested 40 people on charges of drug trafficking – mostly in heroin – following a massive sting operation aimed at reducing the reportedly growing supply throughout the state.
Our Alabama drug distribution attorneys understand that those arrested on warrants have already been indicted at some point over the last six months. Another 10 arrests are reportedly pending.
The sweep involved local authorities from Birmingham and beyond, acting with the aid of federal agencies such as the U.S. Marshals and agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Heroin overdoses in Jefferson, Shelby and Tuscaloosa Counties have spiked fairly dramatically in recent years. Collectively, there were 15 heroin overdose deaths reported in 2008 and then 83 in 2012. That's an increase of more than 450 percent. Most of those individuals were in their 20s and 30s, though a few of those were teens.
Some of the individuals arrested in the sting have been charged with criminally negligent homicide in relation to the overdose deaths.
We have seen an increasing number of cases in which authorities are charging drug dealers for the drug-related deaths of their customers.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, two of the defendants sought in the arrest roundup – both from Birmingham – are facing charges related to the deaths. Code of Alabama 13A-6-4 defines criminally negligent homicide as a situation in which a person causes the death of another person through criminal negligence. Except in cases where a criminally negligent homicide was caused by motor vehicle, this charge is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,000 fine.
The two men facing the charge in connection with this sting reportedly sold heroin to two other men, ages 20 and 28 (the former a University of Alabama student). Both customers died in the same apartment complex within the span of a single month.
The arrests were part of a months-long investigation. Separate investigations over the course of the last two years in the Northern District of Alabama has led to the seizure of nearly five kilograms of heroin. Half of that was seized in a single bust made last year, in which 11 people were indicted. All 11 pleaded guilty to charges of drug distribution. In addition to hefty prison sentences, the federal judge in the case permitted the forfeiture of some $16 million in assets among those involved.
The two key players in that case had reportedly been released from prison on similar charges out of California just a few years earlier.
Heroin is a Schedule I narcotic, according to the federal government, meaning it's highly addictive and has no medicinally-recognized properties. In Alabama, distribution of heroin is considered a Class B felony, meaning those convicted face a sentencing range of between 2 and 20 years behind bars.
These are not charges to be taken lightly. Especially considering the heavy amount of publicity these kinds of cases have received recently in Birmingham, it's not likely the judge will be merciful in the event of a conviction. Hiring a defense attorney with experience is the first step toward insulating not only your assets but your future.
If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Birmingham, contact Drug Crime Defense Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.