Nine additional defendants recently entered guilty pleas pursuant to a wide-ranging drug dealing conspiracy in Northampton County.
Federal authorities launched an investigation in April 2013 amidst allegations of corruption in the county sheriff’s office. FBI agents posed as I-95 Corridor drug dealers who “recruited” deputies because of their law enforcement ties. Justice Department officials said that the defendants transported what they believed to be narcotics in exchange for bribes.
The fourteen individuals from the Northampton County Sherriff’s Office and Virginia Department of Corrections all pleaded guilty to a wide range of charges, including drug conspiracy.
Authorities are more and more aggressive in this area, because these investigations normally result in a large number of high-profile arrests, create a substantial amount of positive publicity for the department, and have a chilling effect on other criminal activity in the area.
Small street dealers are the most frequent drug investigation targets. Generally, these individuals are more than willing to take on new customers, which is often not the case with medium and large dealers.
These operations usually begin after the department receives a number of complaints about drug activity in an area, because the resources that law enforcement invests in these programs dictate that there must be a large payout, in terms of arrests, at the end.
About the only limit placed on undercover officers is that they cannot do anything illegal during the investigation. So, for example, officers cannot smoke marijuana in the presence of others, to endear themselves to other conspirators.
In movies and television, the bad guy nearly always asks the undercover officer, “Are you a cop?” The implication is that a denial sets the stage for an entrapment defense at trial. But such a defense requires much more than the officer’s dishonesty. In fact, only a small percentage of trials involve an entrapment defense, because it is difficult to prove.
The two elements of entrapment in North Carolina are:
- Inducement: Officers must employ trickery or deceit to induce the defendant to commit the crime, which is more than pressuring or cajoling or creating an opportunity.
- No Predisposition: The defendant must have had no inclination whatsoever to engage in the activity before officers set the scene.
The same principle applies in undercover child pornography investigations. Officers often pose as teenage girls, approach targets online, and even send photographs. None of these things constitute entrapment, because the fact that the defendant responded to the “girl” proves that officers did not induce him and that he was predisposed to the crime.
But dishonesty is still highly relevant, because the only substantial evidence against the defendant is the officer’s word. And, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” In other words, if the officers were dishonest in one area, it stands to reason that they may be lying about other things as well, and a jury may well draw that same conclusion.
Contact Aggressive Defense Attorneys
Your best option in a drug case is assertive representation from experienced criminal defense attorneys in Charlotte. Contact Remington & Dixon, PLLC today. We routinely represent clients throughout Mecklenburg County and nearby jurisdictions.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.