Crystal Meth is a synthetic stimulant drug that has been steadily growing in popularity across the country. One reason is that it is seen as a cheaper alternative to other addictive stimulants with an equally intense high. The federal government made it unlawful in 1970 and it is presently a schedule two controlled substance which means it has a high potential for abuse and high potential for physical and psychological abuse and dependence.
Meth offenses are the second most common federal drug offense behind only cocaine accounting for 24% of all federal drug crimes.
FBI DEA and Boarder Patrol are the main federal law enforcement agencies that investigate meth possession distribution and trafficking
A majority of federal meth cases involve between 5 and 10 pounds of meth
A conviction for 5 or more grams of pure meth 50 or more grams of a mixture containing meth carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.
50 grams of pure of a mixture of 500 grams or more carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years
The average sentence for meth trafficking, distribution and manufacturing prosecutions is about 8 years.
Safety Valve Exception to Mandatory Minimums in Federal Drug Cases
A sentencing court can ignore the mandatory minimum sentence and give a more lenient sentence if the following conditions are met
- The offender has no prior criminal record
- The offender did not use violence or a firearm
- The offense did not result in death or bodily injury to another person
- The offender was not a leader, organizer, manager or supervisor of others in the offense
- The defendant must have provided the government truthful information and evidence concerning the offense and other offenses that were part of the same course of conduct or of a common scheme or plan. If the defendant does not have any relevant or useful information to provide to the government shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement
To prove a conspiracy, the government must prove that is was participated in knowingly. Therefore, if someone is charged with Conspiracy to Manufacture 500 grams or more of meth, a 10-year minimum sentence, the government must prove that the defendant knew of the entire 500 gram conspiracy which may be difficult to do.
Manufacture of Methamphetamine requires large amounts of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine which are the main ingredients in over the counter cold medications such as Sudafed and Claritin. To stop the unlawful manufacture of meth and the purchase of these medications for meth production Congress enacted the Combat Methamphetamine Act (CEMA) in 2005. This act required daily and monthly sales limits, sales logbooks and placement out of direct customer access of these medications
Using several people to purchase small amounts of these items to avoid detection and CEMA for meth production is called Smurfing
Federal prosecutors use the conspiracy laws to prosecute all persons that are involved including all persons engaged in Smurfing.
Similarly federal prosecutions often target simple possession of Possession of Ingredients for Methamphetamine (precursors). They would have to prove that the possession of the precursors amount to a conspiracy to manufacture the drug.
There are scientific defenses as well. The federal government will depend upon a forensic scientific analysis to determine the amount of meth and its purity. An independent expert must always evaluate this chemical analysis evidence. Often times the government will argue the meth is pure when in fact it is not. Further, the forensic analysis may be flawed or incorrect. Barton Morris has extensive training, experience and hands on work of the chemical analysis of drugs in their solid dose form. He has used the same equipment used by federal forensic scientists and the accompanying software. Barton Morris has been able to create effective defenses using science that other attorneys who do not have the knowledge could not. Further, the government must prove the defendant’s knowledge of the chemical contents of a mixture. A defense that has been successfully used by Barton Morris is that the defendant did not know exactly what he was in possession of. Many times It not enough only to believe that the substance is unlawful.