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.
The defendant reportedly worked at a restaurant and didn’t bring in a substantial income. His lawyer said that Ramirez-Zuniga got involved in a ‘get rich quick’ scheme with Alvarado and three others that ultimately resulted not only is the loss of his freedom, but financial loss as well. When Homeland Security Investigations and Lansing police raided Alvarado’s Lansing stash house, they seized approximately $39,000 and more than 800 grams of cocaine. His involvement in distributing drugs continued until the summer of 2014 according to reports.
Ramirez-Zuniga’s fiancée said that he was depressed, which may have resulted in his making bad decisions. She said he loved the couple’s son, and worked hard. She was shocked at the news of his illegal activity.
The government alleges that Ramirez-Zuniga was Alvarado’s largest customer based in Lansing.
Cocaine is currently a Schedule II drug, which means that while the substance does have an accepted medical use, it also has a very high potential for abuse. The criminal penalties for those found guilty of possession or possession with intent to deliver, distribute, or manufacture are extremely serious, and may include thousands of dollars in fines and decades in prison. In fact, in some instances if the offense involves more than 1 kg or cocaine, offenders may be subject to a $1 million fine along with the harshest punishment of all – life in prison.
How a drug offense is approached depends largely on the severity of the crime, whether it was the defendant’s first offense, and other factors. For instance, someone who is charged with possession or using illegal drugs may be eligible for rehabilitation, delayed sentencing, 7411 or HYTA (deferred sentencing options), or even in- or out-patient treatment rather than spending time in jail.
People make mistakes; in this case, Ramirez-Zuniga likely saw the possibility of helping his family financially, without considering the consequences. Regardless of the crime, anyone facing drug charges should consult with a highly qualified Michigan drug crimes attorney who will help determine the best legal approach, whether you may be eligible for jail alternatives, even whether it may be to your advantage to accept a plea deal or fight it out in court. There are many avenues to explore, and not all have the same outcome. This is why it is vital to discuss your case with and seek legal guidance from a skilled defense lawyer.