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El Paso Criminal Defense Law Blog

2 facing misdemeanor and felony drug charges

On May 18, Texas authorities reported that two people who were accused of misdemeanor and felony drug offenses were taken into custody after police armed with a warrant searched their home. The two people were identified as a 21-year-old Nacogdoches woman and a 23-year-old Nacogdoches man.

Authorities executed the search warrant on May 17 at a residence located on East Main in Nacogdoches. After the search, the man was accused of being in possession of more than five pounds of marijuana. The woman, who was also at the residence when the search warrant was executed, was accused of being in possession of a variety of other drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine, Tramadol and Hydrocodone.

Border Patrol says the number of drug busts have increased

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that there has been a noted increase in the number of cocaine and heroin seizures in the South Texas region in the past year. For example, the South Texas Corridor had a 177 percent increase in heroin busts and 129 percent increase in cocaine busts.

According to the CBP, smugglers attempting to get drugs into the country use a variety of tactics, including hiding drugs in their personal belongings, vehicle gas tanks, special compartments built into vehicles, bags of candy and even in shipments of fruit and vegetables. To fight the crimes, the Border Patrol has multiple approaches, including K-9 units and equipment used to detect the drugs.

10 taken into custody on drug trafficking accusations

On May 10, it was reported that Texas authorities took 10 people who were believed to be involved in a drug trafficking ring into custody. Called Operation Clean Sweep, the sting began in September 2016 after authorities received a tip about potential narcotics activity occurring in Cedar Park.

Of the 10 who were taken into custody, only one person's identity was released. The man, age 28, was taken into custody on April 27 after authorities recovered 40 pounds of marijuana at his home. He allegedly admitted that he had purchased the marijuana in Oregon and had it shipped to his home in Austin. He faces multiple charges, including possession of marijuana, intent to deliver a controlled substance and a parole violation.

UNT students accused of prostitution and drug possession

Police affiliated with the University of North Texas have issued arrests warrants for three male students. Accusations against the men include promotion of prostitution as well as drug possession. One man, a former basketball player for the university, has already been arrested on charges of possessing under two ounces of marijuana. Denton County Jail released him after he arranged for a $1,000 bond.

Authorities launched the investigation that resulted in the issuance of these warrants after someone reported an alleged sexual assault to the university on March 30. The complaint referred to the possibility of prostitution activity. The two men with warrants citing prostitution have yet to be arrested.

Using ignition interlocks to reduce crash fatalities

Driving while intoxicated is a serious issue in Texas and the rest of the country. In 2014, fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in which alcohol was a factor accounted for almost 10,000 deaths, which was one-third of all of the motor vehicle crash deaths for that year. However, according to a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Colorado School of Public Health, state laws that require the use of ignition interlocks for all individuals who have been convicted of a drunk driving offense can reduce the amount of fatal vehicle crashes involving alcohol.

The study showed that the implementation of mandatory interlock laws resulted in a seven percent reduction in the occurrences of fatal vehicle crashes that had at least one driver with an illegal blood alcohol level. It is estimated that since they were first passed in 1993, 1,250 fatal crashes have been prevented because of mandatory interlock laws.

Combating drunk driving

Texas motorists who live in or who have the occasion to travel through Montgomery County should know that local officials are taking steps to reduce the number of cases and fatalities that result from drunk drivingr. Attorneys, local law enforcement and members of the legislature are considering a variety of options, such as stiffer consequences for driving while intoxicated and a specialized task force to combat DWIs.

In Montgomery County, between 2,000 and 2,500 DWI cases are filed every year, making it the county's largest criminal offense category. According to 2015 data collected by the Texas Transportation Institute, there were 624 crashes caused by DUIs and 21 crashes that resulted in fatalities. There have been 153 fatal DUI traffic accidents in the county since 2010.

More drivers found to be impaired by drugs

The warnings about the consequences of drinking and driving are very common. Indeed, most people understand that a drunk driving charge (and subsequent conviction) can cost thousands of dollars and result in jail time. However, reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that impaired driving (through illegal or prescription drugs) is a growing problem that deserves more attention.

The NHTSA reports that the number of drivers surveyed that had blood alcohol levels above .08 declined by almost one-third since 2007. While this appears to be a step in the right direction with regard to public safety, but the number of people who were driving while impaired by prescription or illegal drugs increased. Specifically, 21 percent of drivers involved in accidents in 2015 were found to have drugs like marijuana, Xanax or Oxycontin in their systems while they were behind the wheel. 

Texas man sentenced to 17 years for drug trafficking

On March 31, a Texas man was sentenced to 204 months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess methamphetamine. The defendant, a 35-year-old Kirbyville resident, pleaded guilty on Oct. 16.

According to court documents, the defendant worked with nine other co-conspirators to purchase large amounts of methamphetamine and crack cocaine from Mexico to distribute in Texas, Louisiana and other parts of the U.S. Authorities began investigating the drug ring in September 2013, and undercover officers made several drug purchases from the defendant and other members of the organization. Eventually, agents seized drugs, firearms and money from the group. A federal grand jury indicted all 10 defendants on Sept. 2, 2015.

Police arrest Artie Lange for drugs

Some Texans may remember Artie Lange, a comedian who regularly appeared on the "Howard Stern Show" for several years. It now appears that Lange has been arrested for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia in Hoboken, New Jersey.

According to officers with the Hoboken Police Department, they received a dispatch to respond to a garage in the city. The caller reported that someone suspicious was attempting to get into a car. When the police looked at the car, they reportedly saw baggies of suspected cocaine and heroin in plain sight inside of the vehicle. The police report that Lange then approached the officers and admitted that he was the vehicle's owner. The officers then searched him, and they allegedly found additional baggies of heroin and cocaine on his person.

Man accused of intoxicated manslaughter posts bond

The 26-year-old man who police said lost control of a Chevrolet Avalanche and allegedly caused the death of a 33-year-old woman has been released from jail in El Paso on a $75,000 bond. According to the arrest affidavit, the vehicle went up on a sidewalk and struck a stop sign. When the sign fell, it hit the woman who had been waiting to cross the street. She died at the scene from a blow to the head.

The police reported that the driver appeared to be intoxicated after making the man take a field sobriety test. Court records indicate that he failed this initial assessment but refused to take a breath test.

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