Articles Posted in Drug Charges

Original Case Information

This case originally started as an assault & battery case charged against the defendant, Michael Thue. The apparent story is that Thue committed his crime in an act of road rage. Thue pled guilty to assault and battery and was sentenced to one year of probation by a Traverse City District Court judge. One of the conditions of Thue’s probation was that he does not use marijuana, including medical marijuana. Because of an accident in his youth, Thue has a rod inserted in his arm that causes him pain. To alleviate this pain, Thue became a registered patient under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) prior to his current assault & battery case. As a registered MMMA patient, Thue is entitled to certain protections from police, prosecutors, and courts. The protections that registered MMMA patients are entitled to relating to the possession and use of medical marijuana include:

• Protection from arrest,

Original Case Details

Back in 1996, Michael Thompson of Flint was sentenced to a minimum of 42 years and a maximum of 60 years for convictions of delivery of marijuana, felony firearm, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Thompson was first arrested in 1994 for this case when he sold three pounds of marijuana to an undercover informant in Genesee County. Police later searched his home and found various firearms. These were firearms that he was not legally allowed to own because of previous felony convictions in the 1980’s. It has been since noted that most of these firearms were antiques that were locked away and that Thompson was not carrying a gun when he sold the marijuana to the informant. At the time of his sentencing, Michigan sentencing guidelines did not apply to habitual offender cases. The habitual offender law at the time allowed a judge to sentence Thompson for any term of state prison up to life in prison specifically for the felon in possession of a firearm charge, even though the normal maximum sentence for this charge is five years in state prison. This sentence in today’s times seems prehistoric as marijuana is both medically and recreationally legal in the state of Michigan today.

Michigan Attorney General’s Position Regarding Early Release

Original Case Details

In the case of United States v Trice, the defendant Raheim Trice entered a conditional plea to one count of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute under federal law. His plea was conditioned on his ability to appeal the warrant that was issued to search his apartment and uncover the illegal drugs seized. In Trice’s case, police set up a hidden camera disguised as a smoke detector in a common area hallway in the apartment building where Trice lived. The camera had a motion sensor which was set to activate every time the door to Trice’s apartment opened. This camera recorded a number of videos showing Trice entering and exiting his apartment. This information was used to support an affidavit for a search warrant. Police were granted the search warrant based on this and other information. Police executed the warrant and found drugs and other paraphernalia this is common in the distribution of drugs. Trice contended that the use of the camera by the police violated his Fourth Amendment rights of search and seizure.

Court of Appeals Decision

Original Case Details

An international drug ring is alleged to have been operated out of the Alger Correctional Facility in Munising, which is almost 50 miles east of Marquette. The Alger Correctional Facility is a 900-inmate capacity state prison operated by the Michigan Department of Corrections. The drug ring is alleged to be distributing crystal meth, heroin, and cocaine that is being supplied by deported ex-cons just south of the border in Mexico. Michigan corrections officers searched the Alger Correctional Facility in May and uncovered a “virtual drugstore” inside the cell of an inmate. The investigation focused on Dontay McMann, who agents believe is a dealer along with another inmate, Juan Meija. Agents say the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) found a hidden piece of evidence in McMann’s cell along with information gained from a secret wiretap. Investigators raided McMann’s prison cell and found more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, 120 tabs of LSD, 80 strips of Suboxone, a scale, and a knife. An electronic typewriter was also found, in which there were three phone storage devices and a cell phone. Currently, nobody has been formally charged with anything. Those alleged to be a part of this drug ring are facing a variety of potential federal drug trafficking charges, as well as conspiracy charges.

What’s Next?

A corrupt Detroit police officer has been recently sent to prison by a federal judge. This police officer was one of fourteen co-defendants in a wide ranging and long-lasting illegal drug trafficking ring. This drug trafficking ring was estimated to have lasted for at least five years before they were indicted. The officers involved used their positions as police officers to help facilitate the sale of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. The officer in this case specifically was involved in the sale of fentanyl. The amount listed in the indictment stated that the officer was found in possession of 400 or more grams of fentanyl.

Case History

Various amounts of drugs and money were found in the possession of many of these defendants. One defendant was found with six kilograms of cocaine in his possession. Another defendant was found with nearly one kilogram of heroin and just under 1/3 of a kilogram of fentanyl. Part of their conspiracy was to transport drugs via commercial airlines. They would have couriers take luggage to the airport, check their bags for the flight, but intentionally miss the flight. This would send the luggage to the destination where another courier would pick up the luggage. This technique is called a “check and miss.” The main officer in this case was said to be in a conspiracy with the others, supplying sensitive law enforcement information in furtherance of the crime. He was even allegedly paid $20,000 to stage a fake traffic stop of an associate to make their drug supplier believe that the cops had busted their drugs and money.

What Is Fentanyl And Why Is It Being Smuggled Into The United States?

Fentanyl is an opioid that was originally intended to be used as a painkiller and in conjunction with other drugs for anesthesia. Fentanyl was approved for common medical use in the United States in 1968. As of 2017, fentanyl was the most commonly used synthetic opioid in the medical world. Now fentanyl is also used a recreational drug, often mixed with heroin or cocaine. As a painkiller, fentanyl is more than 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl and its “structural analogs” are classified as Schedule II drugs by the federal government. This means that fentanyl has medical usefulness, but also a high potential for physical and psychological dependency and abuse. Structural analogs are synthetically made designer drugs that have a very similar scientific structure to the original but have a difference as to avoid criminal laws. Fentanyl has a handful of structural analogs that have also been declared illegal under state and federal law. The size of a few grains of salt of fentanyl could be a deadly dose to the user. It is an extremely powerful drug.

Fentanyl is now being seized at the United States/ Canada border in Detroit at alarming rates. Statistics show that from 2015-17 there was just over one-half pound of fentanyl seized in that three-year period. In 2018 alone that number nearly tripled to almost a pound and a half. As of 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized nearly 10.5 pounds of fentanyl. That is enough to kill nearly 1.5 million people. Nationally the rate of fentanyl seized today is 35 times what it was back in 2015. The recreational demand for fentanyl is at an all-time high. Its potency and addictiveness are what could continue to increase this frightening trend.

In Michigan, one of the components of criminal prosecutions, especially related to drug charges, is civil forfeiture. Many defendants charged with offenses had their money and property seized even if they were found not guilty. With new legislation signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the criminal defendant will now have a higher chance of protecting their assets.

The new legislation will prevent assets taken in suspected drug crimes from being forfeited unless the defendant is convicted or the value of the money and property is more than $50,000, excluding the cost of contraband. A conviction or guilty plea will not be required in instances where no one claims an interest in the property, the owner allows the forfeiture or a defendant has been charged but cannot be located or extradited to Michigan. The reason for the $50,000 threshold has been established due to accusations of more significant distribution cases. To gather insight on this law, we spoke to some of the top criminal defense lawyers in our state to obtain their commentary.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a firm that is known as the top in the state of Michigan. When asked his thoughts, Grabel stated, “Many times in these cases, our firm has taken over after the period of a forfeiture filing had passed. Our goals are not only to protect the freedom of the defendant but also to protect their economic interest and not to be restrained due to a lack of filing by a previous attorney. When we take on a client, we want to protect them in every way possible. The new law will afford us that opportunity.”

Following the death of Prince in 2016, Fentanyl became a well-known painkiller that prior to that time was rarely mentioned. Unfortunately, people often take this drug believing it is hydrocodone although it’s said to be 50 times stronger than heroin. Still, regardless of the danger, many continue to sell or distribute this Schedule II drug which not only causes severe dependence but is highly abused. While it is approved for use in cancer patients with excruciating pain, using it in any criminal manner may result in serious consequences.

Used as a recreational drug, many who purchase what they believe to be other narcotic drugs such as heroin or opioid drugs often don’t realize the drug is actually fentanyl disguised as another pharmaceutical or “street” drugs. Over the last 17 years thousands of individuals have died as a result of using fentanyl, even when prescribed by medical professionals but used improperly by patients in some cases.

Fentanyl is highly potent, and can result in overdose when used by those who are seeking a “high” because of its addictive properties. Derived from morphine, fentanyl is not only administered via IV prior to surgery but can also be taken in tablet, lozenge, film, powder, nasal spray, or transdermal (through the skin) form.

Whether in Michigan or any other state, nearly anyone can be accused of possessing illicit drugs, prescription or otherwise. Unfortunately, in certain circumstances an individual may be charged with possession with intent, if the prosecutor determines the substance in your possession was more than would be considered normal for personal use. Can you fight drug possession charges, and if so, how?

In the U.S. all people who are charged with any criminal offense, regardless of its seriousness, are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Some people unfortunately have the opinion that anyone facing criminal charges is guilty, however this is not the case. In fact, many are innocent. If you are facing drug possession charges, how can you fight and avoid criminal penalties that often include jail time, probation, fines, a criminal record, loss of your driving privilege, and more?

Drug possession charges are some of the most common in every state; thousands of people are arrested each year, often in connection with a minute amount of a controlled substance found on a person, or in his/her car. While defending these charges is possible, it can be challenging, however in many cases prosecutors have more serious cases to attend to and may agree to reduce or even dismiss charges. Regardless of the situation, there are several defense strategies that may prove effective depending on the facts of each individual case. These include:

Recently a Lansing man was sentenced to five years, 10 months in prison for allegedly transporting cocaine from Texas to Michigan. Carlos Ramirez-Zuniga was reportedly involved in a drug ring, much to the surprise of friends and family members.

News reports indicate that friends and family were in disbelief after learning of the crime Ramirez-Zuniga had allegedly committed. According to the government, he was involved in a drug ring that began in 2001 in Michigan, one that “Hector,” a man whose real name was Merced Alvarado, began.

Ramirez-Zuniga’s defense lawyer stated in a sentencing memorandum that his client was concerned about his children viewing him in an unflattering light, something other than the loving, providing father he was known to be. His attorney went on to say that he is “very remorseful” for the mistakes he has made. Additionally, numerous letters were provided to the court supporting the fact that Ramirez-Zuniga was a highly regarded member of the community who was considered to be of ‘good character’ by those who knew him.

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