The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Texas reported in a Jan. 24 press release that nine individuals have been taken into custody for distributing drugs in Rusk, Cherokee and Smith Counties. The suspects are between 30 and 55 years of age. The arrests were made just days after a federal grand jury handed down a 42-count indictment. The suspects were arraigned in Smith County on Jan. 22 and Jan. 24 on charges including conspiracy to distribute drugs, possessing drugs with the intent to distribute, and using a firearm during the commission of a felony.
The suspects are accused of conspiring to distribute significant quantities of methamphetamine in eastern Texas. U.S. attorneys say that several of the individuals taken into custody regularly carried guns that were used to further their alleged drug trafficking activities. If they are convicted on all of the counts they face, the suspects could be sentenced to life in a federal prison.
The indictments and arrests mark the end of a narcotics investigation involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that began almost two years ago. Agencies that took part in the operation include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Smith, Rusk and Cherokee County Sheriff's Offices, and the Troup, Tyler, Henderson and Jacksonville Police Departments.
This investigation likely lasted so long because federal prosecutors generally prefer to file charges only after compelling evidence has been gathered, which is why experienced criminal defense attorneys could advise individuals facing federal drug charges to think carefully before rejecting plea offers. Federal prosecutors also tend to avoid jury trials if they can, and attorneys may be able to elicit generous sentencing offers during plea negotiations by offering them a swift resolution.