If you have been paying attention to the news you may be familiar with some of the famous Mexican Drug cartels who have been in the headlines lately.  While it is easy to think that these Cartels are hundreds of miles away and do not have any direct connection to New Jersey this is not the case. Recently, FBI and Atlantic City and Ventnor police departments made their 12th arrest for participation in a drug-trafficking organization tied to a Mexican Drug Cartel.

While this case may be an extreme case, drug-trafficking accusations are fairly common. Being accused of drug trafficking is a serious accusation, and can result in severe penalties.  At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our drug distribution defense attorneys provide vigorous, experienced, and aggressive defense for individuals accused of all types of serious drug crimes in New Jersey. A conviction can permanently derail your life and dreams while leading to a host of serious consequences. These consequences can range from prison time and fines to lost employment and loan opportunities. Therefore it is essential to mount a robust defense against charges of this type. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the first step to protecting your rights and freedom.

HOW DID THE CHARGES ARISE?

On Thursday, March 17th members of both the FBI and the Atlantic City Ventor Police department arrested Tejohn Cooper of Galloway Township and five others during a raid for his alleged participation in a drug-trafficking organization. He was charged with for trafficking heroin, powder cocaine and crack cocaine in the Atlantic City area.  His arrest was the 12th arrest in a series of arrests all tied to a notorious Mexican drug cartel. He along with the five others who were arrested were charged in a superseding indictment with drug-trafficking conspiracy and using a telephone facility to further a drug-trafficking crime. They are charged with conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, more than 280 grams of crack cocaine, and more than one kilogram of heroin. Cooper was scheduled to have his initial court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider in Camden federal court on Thursday March 17, 2016.

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WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE PENALTIES?

Being arrested for a drug offense is serious charge and can carry severe penalties including fines and jail-time.  While in this case, the charges stemmed from violation of federal statutes there are equivalent statutes in New Jersey.

In the federal indictment Tejohn and the five others were charged with:

Drug trafficking conspiracy: The defendant was charged with knowingly and intentionally conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture of cocaine. The conspiracy count carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine.

Money laundering Conspiracy:  The defendants were indicted with knowing that the property involved in the financial transactions represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, drug trafficking, with the intent to promote the carrying on of a specified unlawful activity. The money laundering conspiracy count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The telephone facilitation counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of four years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The felon-in-possession counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

While there were no charges filed at the moment, it is a crime in New Jersey Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 to “knowingly or purposely … possess or have under his control with intent to … distribute a controlled dangerous substance (or controlled substance analog).” This means that unless you have a legally justifiable reason, it is illegal to posses controlled substances or offer them or intend to offer them for sale or distribution. The penalties under New Jersey law can be just as severe if not more severe as the federal penalties.

NEW JERSEY PENALTIES

If you have been charged of or convicted of drug trafficking, drug distribution, possession of drugs with Intent to sell, Manufacturing or any other offense involving the sale of drugs, you could face the following penalties broken down by the type of drug:

Marijuana:

  • For 25 pounds or more of marijuana, or 50 or more marijuana plants:
    • Is considered a 1st degree offense and carries up to $300,000 in fines
  • For 5 or more pounds of marijuana, but less than 25 pounds of marijuana, or between 10 and 49 marijuana plants is considered a 2nd degree offense
  • For 1 ounce or more of marijuana, but less than 5 pounds of marijuana
    • Is considered a 3rd degree offense and up to $25,000 in fines

Cocaine, Heroine, or Ecstasy:

  • For 5 ounces or more:
    • Is considered a1st degree offense and carries a possible $500,000 in fines
  • For under 5 grams but more than ½ of an ounce is considered a 2nd degree offense
  • For less than ½ of an ounce:
    • Is considered a 3rd degree offense and up to $75,000 in fines

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LSD, PCP:

  • For 100 milligrams or more of LSD or 10 or more grams of PCP:
    • Is considered a1st degree offense and carries up to $500,000 in fines
  • For less than 100 milligrams of LSD or less than 10 grams of PCP is considered a 2nd degree offense

Methamphetamine or P2P:

  • For 5 ounces or more:
    • Is considered a 1st degree offense and carries up to $300,000 in fines
  • For ½ ounce or more, but less than 5 ounces is considered a 2nd degree offense
  • For less than ½ ounce:
    • Is considered a 3rd degree offense and carries up to $75,000 in fines

EXPERIENCED DRUG MANUFACTURING & DISTRIBUTION DEFENSE ATTORNEYS

An experienced Atlantic City criminal defense attorney of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych can protect your rights and defend your freedom if you face serious criminal allegations like drug distribution of the manufacture of drugs. To learn more about how our aggressive and strategic attorneys can fight for you against drug distribution or manufacturing charges in Atlantic County, Cape May County, Pleasantville, Egg Harbor Township, Absecon, Mays Landing, Somers Point, Brigantine, Ventnor Heights or elsewhere in New Jersey, contact our firm today. Simply call our offices at (609) 616-4956 or contact us online.