Two Major Drug Busts in Tarrant County
KTVT-TV reported on October 15, 2020 that U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox announced 30 people were charged in a meth distribution ring run out of a Fort Worth clothing store. Twenty-one of the 30 alleged offenders were arrested in “Operation Ice Tank,” led by DEA Dallas’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Group.
Five were bonded over from state custody and four remain fugitives. All 30 were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
According to a criminal complaint, the ring was allegedly led by the 30-year-old owner of Funky Town Swag, a Fort Worth clothing store. During the arrests, investigators seized 16 kilograms of methamphetamine, 9 ounces of heroin, and nine firearms.
The Funky Town Swag owner allegedly attempted to erect a meth conversion lab inside a residence in Fort Worth. Inside the kitchen of the home, agents discovered 27 igloo coolers, a bucket of methylsulfonylmethane (a horse vitamin often used as a cutting agent), three jugs of acetone, one container of liquid meth, and two containers of crystal meth.
They also found several zip-top baggies of crystal meth stashed inside the washing machine and a loaded revolver in the master bedroom. Investigators collectively recovered 8 kilograms of methamphetamine from inside the residence.
Based on surveillance, multiple wiretaps, and interviews with cooperators, investigators determined that dealers working for Rodriguez allegedly distributed kilogram quantities of crystal meth out of Funky Town’s back office as well as several trap houses, a local motel, and a car wash. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 40 years in federal prison.
The KTVT-TV story came less than two weeks after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the 49 people who funneled opioids in Texas pill mill included two doctors and five pharmacists. Law enforcement authorities in Dallas publicly alleged they had participated in an $18 million pill mill scheme.
The suspects were charged in U.S. District Court with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Forty of the defendants were arrested in the last full week in September, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas said.
The DEA Dallas Field Division’s Fort Worth office conducted the investigation. The final arrested alleged offender made her initial appearance in U.S. District Court.
The two doctors wrote prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone, alprazolam, carisoprodol, zolpidem, phentermine and promethazine with codeine knowing that the drugs would be diverted to the street for illicit use, according to a criminal complaint. The doctors were assisted by a clinic manager and used a network of recruiters to enlist “patients” from the community and homeless shelters, the complaint alleged.
Recruiters paid each “patient” a fee, usually $50 to $200, to obtain prescriptions from the doctors. The recruiters, who paid the clinic based in part on the amount of drugs prescribed, then filled the prescriptions at complicit pharmacies and diverted the drugs for resale on the street, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged.
At the clinic, many of the “patients” were seen not by the doctors, but by the clinic manager, who held neither a medical license nor a DEA registration. After a perfunctory conversation with the “patient,” the clinic manager coordinated with the doctors to prescribe drugs without a legitimate medical purpose.
One doctor issued, during nine years, prescriptions for more than 524,000 doses of hydrocodone, 430,000 doses of carisoprodol, 77,000 doses of alprazolam, and 2.07 million doses of promethazine with codeine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The other doctor, during seven years, issued prescriptions for more than 200,000 doses of hydrocodone, 55,000 doses of carisoprodol, 14,000 doses of alprazolam, and 450,000 doses of promethazine with codeine.
The alleged offenders each face up to 20 years in prison.
Defending Against Drug Charges in Fort Worth, TX
Not all drug crimes are as complicated as the scenarios described above. Many other individuals face various drug charges for completely isolated incidents.
Possession of a controlled substance is certainly the most common drug offense in Texas, and numerous people can find themselves caught by police while in possession of an illegal drug or unauthorized possession of a prescription drug. Simple possession offenses in Texas can still carry serious penalties that can drastically affect entire lives of people.
While possession of some lower level drugs may only lead to misdemeanor charges, possession of any Penalty Group 1, Penalty Group 1-A, or Penalty Group 2 controlled substance is at least a state jail felony. Convictions in such cases could result in a sentence of up to two years in state jail as well as a fine of $10,000.
Felony drug possession charges often stem from possession of larger amounts of controlled substances. Possession of 1 gram or more of a Penalty Group 1 or Penalty Group 2 controlled substance, or possession of 20 units or more of a Penalty Group 1-A controlled substance is a third-degree felony, and such convictions then become punishable by up to 10 years in prison as well as a fine of $10,000.
Even misdemeanor drug possession charges can still create additional problems later on for individuals who plead guilty to such offenses. Drug possession charges on criminal records can be very damaging for background checks conducted as part of employment screenings or rental agreements.
Juvenile drug charges also tend to avoid the complex scenarios in the news stories, as many young people are caught with drugs on a regular basis. Drug charges are always a huge threat to the entire futures of teenagers who typically failed to appreciate the dangers of drug use.
Drug trafficking is perhaps the most serious drug crime a person can be accused of, and the criminal charge does not necessarily have to stem from a suspected drug deal. It is possible to be charged for trafficking simply because a person happened to be in possession of a considerable amount that law enforcement may presume was intended for sale.
Both of the cases discussed earlier in this blog post were the results of federal investigations, and local law enforcement departments do not have the same resources at their disposal. There are similar cases of drug schemes still occasionally uncovered through the smaller departments.
Federal drug charges can be a much more serious threat to a person because the possible penalties may be worse, but federal charges are often reserved for the most serious drug cases. Most alleged drug crimes in Tarrant County result in state charges handled exclusively in local courts.
Fort Worth Drug Crimes Lawyer
If you were recently arrested for any kind of a drug crime in Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Arlington, or somewhere else in Tarrant County, do not wait to get experienced legal representation on your side. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy is prepared to do the work necessary to help you achieve the most favorable resolution to your case.
Our firm has handled scores of all kinds of drug cases over the course of two decades. You can have us review your case and answer all your legal questions when you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.