A federal indictment charges at least nine members of an alleged drug ring of conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine in western North Carolina. At least three more individuals are wanted in connection with the meth ring.
The conspiracy charge means that each person named in the indictment can face punishment for any activity that arose from the alleged drug ring, whether or not he or she directly participated in the criminal act.
A federal drug conspiracy involves:
- An agreement between two or more people to violate a federal drug law
- Each co-conspirator knew about the conspiracy and intended to participate in the conspiracy
- Some action taken in furtherance of the goal of the conspiracy
As with any drug case - whether in North Carolina state or federal court - the amount of drugs involved will determine the level of the offense and any resulting penalties. The quantity of drugs allegedly involved here - at least 50 grams of methamphetamines or at least 500 grams of a meth mixture - could trigger drug trafficking charges and mandatory minimum sentences upon conviction in the federal criminal justice system.
For those facing their first offense, this quantity of drugs if prosecuted as a trafficking offense could trigger at least 10 years in prison for each member of the conspiracy. For those with a prior criminal history, mandatory minimums could mean at least a 20 year sentence up to a life in prison. Each person will likely face substantial fines as well if convicted.
Source: Charlotte Observer, "9 arrested in multi-county meth ring, authorities say," December 18, 2013