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New York Criminal Defense Law Blog

16 accused of involvement in heroin trafficking ring

Authorities charged 16 people on June 21 for allegedly being involved in a New York heroin trafficking ring. The individuals were accused of being narcotics suppliers and users who would also resell the drugs.

The trafficking ring was reportedly in operation between Nov. 13, 2015, and March 30, 2017. During the investigation into the alleged trafficking ring, authorities reportedly monitored the members' phone conversations. The accused individuals reportedly used code to conduct drug deals or move the heroin around. The 16 accused individuals were taken into custody during a series of raids that occurred in multiple places throughout New York City and in other states, including Florida, New Jersey and California.

Overdose investigation leads to arrests for heroin trafficking

As overdoses continue to make headlines in New York and across the country, investigators in Long Island focused their attention on finding the source of drugs behind a recent non-fatal overdose. The Long Island Heroin Task Force suspected the occupants of a 2003 Mercedes Benz to be involved in the incident. Police pulled the vehicle over in Copiague and found heroin in the car of a 31-year-old man and 27-year-old woman. The woman's 21-month-old child was also in the vehicle.

The same investigation also led to the arrest of two more men, ages 30 and 29, in Copiague. Law enforcement officials reported that the 2015 Nissan Altima used by the men also contained an undisclosed amount of heroin.

Drug arrest threatens career of emerging rap artist

Fans of rap music in New York anticipating the release of a debut album from Rich Homie Quan might not have a chance to see him perform in the future after his arrest for alleged drug possession. Police in his home state in the South arrested him along with five of his associates at a Saturday night checkpoint. Authorities suspected the men of possessing drugs and a stolen firearm.

TMZ released details from the rapper's arrest report that described charges of felony marijuana possession and an intent to distribute. The amount of marijuana allegedly on his person was not known. Police jailed him pending his bond hearing.

NY parents arrested for drug possession and endangering a child

A married couple in Jamestown found themselves under arrest following a law enforcement raid at their residence on May 16. After their arrest, their 4-year-old child was taken into protective custody. A municipal drug task force, state narcotics enforcement team and the DEA took part in the search of their home. The raid was conducted through a search warrant.

Both defendants face felony charges for allegedly possessing 130 grams of cocaine and 25 grams of crack cocaine. In addition, they face a misdemeanor charge for endangering the welfare of a child. As of press time, the couple was awaiting arraignment in the Jamestown City Jail. If convicted, the parents will be at risk of losing the parental rights of their child.

Actor involved in federal money laundering probe

While many New York residents may have enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in "The Wolf of Wall Street", few will be aware that the Oscar-winning actor is in some ways connected to a federal money laundering investigation over his involvement in the project. DiCaprio released a statement in October 2016 revealing that he has assisted investigators who are tracking about $3.5 billion that was allegedly misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Part of the money is said to have been used to finance the 2013 film, and DiCaprio says that he helped investigators determine whether or not he or his foundation had received any of the funds. The fund was originally set up to encourage economic development, but federal prosecutors say that the money was used to buy impressionist masterpieces, acquire luxury real estate and finance lavish gambling trips to Las Vegas. The Malaysian prime minister says that he has done nothing wrong.

New policies could swell federal prison population

New York residents may be aware of efforts in recent years to ease overcrowding in federal prisons. This was done in part by limiting the use of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that had the potential to put nonviolent offenders behind bars for many years. However, in a two-page memo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now directed federal prosecutors to seek the most serious charges against defendants.

According to the Justice Department, low-level offenders would not be the target of this new directive unless their crimes involved links to gangs, guns or other aggravated offenses. Instead, 10-year mandatory minimum sentences would be sought against those found to be in possession of a kilogram of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine or 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of sentenced inmates in federal prisons dropped 5 percent from 2009 to 2015.

RICO charges for drug arrests

New Yorkers arrested based on drug crime allegations may face additional risks. In some drug cases, federal prosecutors may decide to pursue RICO charges, increasing the level of potential penalties.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act gives state and federal law enforcement agencies powers to help them more effectively investigate and prosecute certain common types of organized crime. The Act lists several crimes, including drug trafficking and drug dealing, that can serve as a basis for RICO prosecution.

Life insurance investing firm settles with SEC

New York residents may be interested to learn that a New Jersey-based management firm along with its CEO have agreed to pay more than $4 million in order to settle charges after they were accused of being involved in a Ponzi scheme. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the firm used new investor money to pay earlier investors.

The SEC's complaint stated that the firm, Verto Capital Management, raised about $12.5 million to allegedly purchase and sell life insurance policies on the secondary market. The SEC alleged that the firm misrepresented its profitability to investors even though it had actually not been profitable for several years. The funds that were raised were reportedly used to pay earlier investors and the CEO.

Arrests in drug trafficking operation

According to officials, 52 individuals were charged with multiple offenses related to almost 370 crimes as a result of a Central New York drug trafficking operation. The charges included selling drugs, operating as a major drug trafficker, drug possession and conspiracy to commit murder.

The arrests were a result of a one-year investigation, referred to as Operation Bricktown. Approximately 30 of the individuals who have been charged are believed to be members of Syracuse's Bricktown Gang. It is believed that the organization has been operating in the city for over a decade. According to police surveillance records, members of the gang intended to kill members of rival gangs in the city.

Report on law enforcement hacking released

New York residents may be aware that federal agencies including the National Security Agency have been accused of monitoring the electronic communications of millions of Americans, but they may not know about a new technique being used by law enforcement that places malware on the computers of people who have been suspected of being involved in illegal activity. Civil rights groups are especially concerned about this development because it allows federal agents to monitor the online activates of large numbers of internet users after obtaining a single search warrant.

Law enforcement hacking was made possible by a revision of Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that was implemented in 2016. The rule change allows government agents to seize the servers of websites alleged to be involved in criminal enterprises in order to identify and track their visitors. In a 2016 case, the technique was used by FBI agents to monitor the activities of approximately 9,000 individuals who accessed a website that allegedly distributed child pornography.

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