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Corpus Christi Criminal Defense Blog

Are you under investigation for a federal crime?

Have law enforcement officers come knocking at your door? You may be surprised-even shocked, to learn that you are under investigation for criminal activity.

Whether or not you know why law enforcement suspects you are participating in illegal activity, you might not understand the extent of the charges against you.

San Antonio woman sentenced for health care fraud

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas says that a 46-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative made more than $1 million between February 2013 and December 2014 by participating in a fraudulent prescription scheme. The woman was sentenced on Jan. 16 to spend 30 months in a federal prison. This is to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution costs of $1,746,222. Federal authorities have already recovered approximately $88,000 from the woman by seizing and selling her San Antonio home.

The woman was sentenced as part of a plea agreement she entered into with federal prosecutors in February 2019. U.S. attorneys agreed to dismiss most of the charges against her in return for a guilty plea to a single conspiracy count. She has until June 15 to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service and begin her custodial sentence.

Texas man admits to methamphetamine distribution

A 51-year-old man has admitted to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Texas announced on Jan. 7 that the Edgewood resident had pleaded guilty to distributing at least 500 grams of the drug. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on drug trafficking crimes in August 2019.

Court documents reveal that the man sold illegal drugs to undercover police officers in Van Zandt County on two occasions in July 2018. This provided law enforcement with probable cause to obtain a search warrant for his residence. During the search, police are said to have discovered an undisclosed quantity of methamphetamine. The investigation into the man's activities was conducted by federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and deputies from the Zandt County Sheriff's Office.

Charges dismissed in major marijuana case

The Texas Department of Public Safety announced a major drug seizure in December 2019, but the case was dismissed on Jan. 2 after it was learned that the 3,350 pounds of plant material involved was legal hemp and not illegal marijuana. The judge who dismissed the case ordered the 39-year-old man apprehended in connection with the alleged marijuana released from custody. The man's attorney says that his client intends to file a lawsuit seeking the return of his property and compensation for the time he spent in an Amarillo detention facility.

The alleged marijuana was discovered in a U-Haul truck that was pulled over by the Texas Highway Patrol in Carson County for an undisclosed traffic violation. Court documents reveal that the truck had been stopped previously in Arizona but was allowed to continue on its journey after police determined that its load was hemp and not marijuana. The documents also suggest that one of the Drug Enforcement Administration agents assigned to the case was unfamiliar with the permissible THC limits in hemp established by Texas House Bill 1325.

How is human trafficking and slavery defined?

Modern slavery and human trafficking are, unfortunately, significant problems across the United States. It's common for undocumented immigrants and vulnerable people to become involved in forced work that limits their autonomy and sense of freedom.

Those who have been accused of activities relating to perpetrating human trafficking or slavery can face severe consequences under the law. Those charged with perpetrating human trafficking are often involved in drug trafficking or the sex trade. Human trafficking has also been linked to the construction industry or other workplaces where manual labor is required. If you have been accused of human trafficking, you should understand how it is defined under the law before you take further action.

Tobacco age change raises retailers' concerns

Texas was one of the states that led the way for the change in federal law that makes it illegal to sell tobacco products to people under 21. Included as part of a major spending bill passed in December 2019, the legislation did not set a date for officially raising the age to purchase tobacco products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vape cartridges, from 18 to 21. Some estimates indicated that they expected that the law would not go into effect for six to nine months. However, the FDA published a statement on the agency website affirming that "it is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco anyone under 21."

At the same time, the federal agency declared that it would be publishing a final rule to implement the changes within 180 days and would then publish additional information. The bill was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, 2019. There were already 19 states who had changed their tobacco age limits, including Texas as well as New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia. In addition to the state law changes, over 530 cities, towns and counties in 31 states had already passed laws raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products.

University of Texas lecturer facing drug charges

A University of Texas at San Antonio lecturer was suspended on Dec. 11 after federal agents allegedly discovered drugs and drug manufacturing equipment in her apartment and a storage facility she rented. The 51-year-old woman and her 25-year-old male roommate have been charged with manufacturing and distributing fake Adderall pills containing methamphetamine. Agents believe the pair distributed drugs in San Antonio and Austin. They are both being held in federal custody.

The undercover operation that led to the arrests was set up on Nov. 7 when the woman allegedly agreed to sell 1,000 Adderall pills to Drug Enforcement Administration agents for $3,300. She also allegedly agreed to sell larger quantities of drugs in the future. The woman gave agents a false name, but her identity was established by running motor vehicle check on her pickup truck license plates. Agents then placed the woman's Presidion Parkway apartment under surveillance.

Man sentenced for placing drugs on commercial flights

A man who admitted to placing illegal drugs on commercial flights at a Texas airport was sentenced on Dec. 12 to 200 months in a federal prison. He pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute in March as part of a negotiated plea agreement. The man is the lead defendant in two cases involving compromises of airport security. A dozen individuals have been charged according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

The man was apprehended following an undercover operation mounted by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Dallas Field Office. The man, who worked as a baggage handler at the Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport, is said to have told agents that he could place illegal drugs on commercial flights because he knew when drug-sniffing dogs would be deployed to check luggage. After being taken into custody, the man admitted to agents that he performed this service for several individuals.

Texas woman sentenced on federal drug conspiracy charges

A Texas woman was sentenced to spend 140 months in a federal correctional facility to be followed by five years of supervised release on Dec. 2 for conspiring to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine. The 25-year-old Hidalgo County resident learned of her fate during a sentencing hearing held at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The woman admitted her role in the conspiracy to federal prosecutors in February 2018. She could have been sentenced to life imprisonment if she had been found guilty after a trial.

The judge who handed down the sentence was told by U.S. attorneys that the woman managed or supervised the distribution of illegal narcotics that were smuggled into the United States from Mexico. She is said to have arranged for the distribution of approximately six kilograms of methamphetamine and about 42 kilograms of marijuana. Two men who prosecutors say the woman hired to transport the illegal drugs have also been charged.

Changes can arise from a business' connection with criminals

Criminal operations, such as organized efforts to bring prohibited drugs into the country, don't always look criminal from the outside. In order to successfully profit off of illegal activity, those who break the law often have to follow it as well. In fact, it is common for legal, even successful, businesses to play a role in criminal activities. They can help a company turn illegal profits into spendable, taxed money.

Restaurants, laundromats and any business that deals in cash can serve as an option for laundering money earned through illegal activities. Anything from a bodega to a car wash could offer actual services to the community while also serving as a way to legitimize money earned through criminal activities.


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