More on the drug bust front. This week authorities arrested four men in conjunction with a year long drug investigation. The arrests occurred after search warrants were executed in Ottumwa and Newton, Iowa. The four men, Michael McManus Jr., 35, of Ottumwa; Terry Lee Young, 58, of Ottumwa; Brian Lee Carmer, 35, of Newton; and Juan Hernandez-Huerta, 25, of Ottumwa are all facing conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine charges. It is unclear whether the charges are state or federal but it seems likely given the amount of methamphetamine seized that this case will end up in federal court. Below is a picture of the methamphetamine that was seized. Meth is mostly commonly found in either powder or crystal form. Meth made locally is generally anhydrous meth because of the way its made using anhydrous ammonia. This type of meth is made in clandestine labs. These labs are volatile and exceptionally dangerous. For a list of clandestine labs found around the country visit the Justice Department's clandestine lab website. Anhydrous meth is generally not as desirable as the more pure meth imported from Mexico and other foreign nations. Meth can be mixed with foreign materials such as horse vitamins to increase its volume and dilute its purity. This is commonly referred to as "cut". This allows a dealer to take a pound of pure meth and create two pounds. More volume = more sales = more money. Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken orally. The methamphetamine in this picture is packaged. Each individual package is referred to as a brick. It appears dirty because it was probably being concealed in some fashion. The meth itself is probably very safe in whatever packaging material it is in. As always the Stowers Law Firm reminds you that all persons are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY beyond a reasonable doubt. These arrests came after a year long investigation in which law enforcement performed a number of drug purchases. These purchases are known as "controlled buys" because they are accomplished using individuals working with law enforcement and either drugs or money which is specifically identifiable when and if it is recovered. During a controlled buy law enforcement also utilizes human and electronic surveillance. It is likely that each of these gentlemen, if charged in federal court, will face, at least, a mandatory minimum 10 year sentence. Given the quantity however, it is likely their federal sentencing guideline range will be much higher than ten years. As always they will need an experienced and aggressive lawyer to assist them in their defense.
KCCI News reported today on three members of a Council Bluffs family who have been charged with first-degree kidnapping as well as willful injury. The charges stem from activities reported by their 20-year old mentally handicapped family member. The family member ran away from home on February 19, 2013 and when found by strangers, was taken to Joshua House, a shelter for homeless men. It is reported that he told a shelter worker that he was being deprived of basic necessities like food and use of a restroom. Other allegations involve the his stepmother restraining him in a garage, sometimes overnight, with dog leashes and chains. Additional information claims that the stepmother burned him with hot silverware. The young man had multiple burns on his back, left forearm, inner thighs and groin area. One of these burns was reported to be consistent with a clothing iron. The man's stepmother has been charged with willful injury causing serious injury and the man's father and stepbrother are both charged with first-degree kidnapping. As the authorities investigate it is very possible the charges will be modified. As it stands, all of these charges are serious and carry hefty punishments if convicted. Kidnapping, found in Iowa Code Chapter 710 is defined as follows: "A person commits kidnapping when the person either confines a person or removes a person from one place to another, knowing that the person who confines or removes the other person has neither the authority nor the consent of the other to do so; provided, that to constitute kidnapping the act must be accompanied by one or more of the following:
Another day, another drug raid in central Iowa. This one occurred in the town of Monroe, Iowa in rural Jasper County. According to KCCI, 6 people were arrested on varying charges from possession with the intent to deliver marijuana to misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. The six charged ranged in age from 27-18. This raid, like many others in central Iowa, was carried out by members of the mid-Iowa narcotics enforcement task force, commonly known as the MINE task force. The MINE task force is a federally funded organization made of a variety of federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The task force focuses on drug interdiction operations in Des Moines and surrounding communities.
Another central Iowa drug bust occurred yesterday. This one was in Marshalltown, Iowa about 45 minutes northeast of Des Moines. According to the Des Moines Register police executed a search warrant on a home in the 500 block of N Seventh Ave. Officers seized cocaine, crack, ecstasy and psilocybin. Prescription drugs, cash and a gun were also found. Ronald Henderson was arrested and taken to the Marshall County Jail were he was charged with four counts of possession with the intent to deliver, three tax stamp violations, one count of prohibitive acts and a driving while barred. These charges are very serious. The possession with the intent to deliver charges involve two B felonies and two C felonies. A B felony carries a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in state prison. A C felony carries a maximum charge of 10 years in state prison. The three tax stamp violations are each D felonies carrying a maximum of 5 years in state prison each. The prohibitive acts (likely a charge for keeping a drug house or vehicle) is an aggravated misdemeanor with a maximum of 2 years in state prison. The same is true of the driving while barred. Thus, Mr. Henderson is looking at 89 years is just the base potential maximum. If Mr. Hendersen has prior convictions under Iowa Code Section 124.401 he may be subject to several enhancements including the habitual offender enhancement and a second and subsequent offender enhancement. These enhancements could result in a mandatory minimum sentence and/or a tripling of the penalties for the possession with the intent to deliver charges (B felony 25 x 3 = 75 year max on each; C felony 10 x 3 = 30 year max on each, for a total of 210 years on the possession with the intent charges). Another enhancement for having a gun in conjunction with the drugs could apply. Lastly, given the type of drugs involved and the fact that a firearm was located in proximity to the narcotics, it is possible this case could migrate to federal court. If the case were to "go federal" as we say, the penalties would depend on the quantity of drugs found. However, needless to say they would be serious penalties. The other major difference is that unlike a state sentence where a defendant serves maybe 50% or less of his/her sentence, in federal court a defendant under almost all circumstances is required to serve 85% of the sentence imposed. So, while a defendant sentenced to ten years in Iowa District Court might serve 12-36 months, a defendant in an Iowa Federal District Court sentenced to ten years will almost always serve at least 102 months. Mr. Henderson's situation is serious. However, it is very important to point out that he is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY beyond a reasonable doubt. Just because a person is arrested and charged does not mean that person committed any crime. The State of Iowa or the federal government shoulder the very heavy burden of proving a criminal defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That said Mr. Henderson and people in similar situations need well-trained, experienced lawyers fighting on their side. If you or a loved one finds yourself in a similar situation do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at the Stowers Law Firm. [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Phone' type='text'/][contact-field label='Question or Legal Problem' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]
Recently, police in Altoona, Iowa executed a search warrant at the home of Jacob Alexander Willis. According to police, Willis was under some sort of investigation, presumably narcotics related. Upon entering Willis's house police discovered over 200 marijuana plants. Law enforcement said the marijuana plants covered most of the house. Willis apparently constructed an intricate system for watering and heating the plants. In addition to the pot plants, police found harvested and packaged marijuana in the home. Jacob Willis has been charged with possession with the intent to deliver marijuana, manufacture of marijuana and a tax stamp violation. All of the charges are Class D felonies punishable by up to five years in prison. However, in certain factual situations, the possession with the intent to deliver charge and the manufacture charge are considered one violation of Iowa Code Section 124.401 and would merge at sentencing. Thus, it is very possible that Willis is only looking at a maximum of ten years instead of fifteen. Altoona police said this is one of the biggest indoor grow operations they've ever seen. That got us thinking. Is 200 plants really big; or is it just really big for little Altoona, Iowa? So we decided to do a quick google search for "indoor grow operations busted" and here is what we found:
This editorial (reprinted below) appeared in the Des Moines Register last week.
This article (reprinted below) appeared in the Des Moines Register last week.
This article (reprinted below) appeared in the Des Moines Register last week.
Did you know that if you are black in Iowa you are 8.34 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than if you are white? According to a new study released June 4, 2013 by the ACLU Iowa ranks worst in the nation in racial disparities of marijuana arrests. Within Iowa, Dubuque County holds the prize for the largest racial disparity in pot arrests clocking in at 1,816 arrests per 100,000 African Americans vs. 181 arrests per 100,000 white Americans. Most startling is that blacks and whites admit to using marijuana at relatively similar rates. Nationally, blacks are only 3.7 times as likely to be arrest for marijuana possession as whites. That makes Iowa's rate about double the national average. Other major offending counties in Iowa include Woodbury, Johnson, Linn and Clinton counties. This is not Iowa's only problem when it comes to racial disparities and the criminal justice system. As the ACLU press release points out, Iowa incarcerates African Americans at almost double the national average of white Americans (13.6 times the rate of white Americans). It appears we are enforcing our drug laws in a manner inconsistent with our storied history on civil rights. Iowa was one of the first states to declare that African Americans were not property and would not be returned to former slave holders and did so long before the United States Supreme Court did. Iowa was the first state to admit women to the practice of law and Iowa was one of the first states to permit marriage equality. This disturbing trend in how arrest and incarceration rates among blacks and whites must be openly discussed and steps must be taken to understand and ultimately correct the problem. If you or someone you know do find yourself in trouble for possession of marijuana or for any other reason, do not hesitate to contact us at the Stowers Law Firm. We have experienced criminal defense attorneys who can assist you in fighting your case. Related articles