Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

Just a couple of weeks ago, a U.S. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officer who was a 25-year veteran was sentenced to more than 12 years behind bars in a federal prison after he was found guilty on several drug-related charges by a federal jury. According to reports, 52-year-old Manuel Porras Salas was convicted of one count each of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and making false statements to law enforcement.

Salas worked at Los Angeles International Airport, and previously worked as a CBP officer at Ontario International and John Wayne airports. He was tried and sentenced after authorities say he was helping move illegal drugs from Southern California to Chicago, specifically marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

With drug laws changing frequently in California, it’s hard to know how serious the charges are and what the punishment may be when someone is convicted (found guilty). How serious the penalties are also depend on other factors such as prior criminal convictions of the accused.

In 2016 Alpacino McDaniels was found guilty of the July 2013 murder of 23-year-old Teric Traylor by an Alameda County Superior Court jury. McDaniels allegedly killed Traylor during a street fight in West Oakland, although McDaniels claimed that he was not the one who shot the victim. McDaniels had prior convictions including two for possessing cocaine base for sale, one for evading police and another for selling a controlled substance.

In this case the murder of the victim occurred in an area commonly known as one where drug crimes and other violent activity took place, the block referred to as “Mead Street” in West Oakland which runs between Market Street and San Pablo Avenue. Reports claim that while drug dealers would operate at various locations on Mead, the main site where drug activity took place was at a corner liquor store. McDaniels was convicted of one count each of first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm.

The jury in the case determined that McDaniels intentionally and personally discharged a firearm that resulted in the victim’s death, and concluded three firearm enhancements along with the murder count were true. He was sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder along with 25 years to life for the discharge of a firearm causing death to be served consecutively, a total of 50 years to life behind bars. In the two additional firearm enhancements, 20- and 10-year terms were stayed. McDaniels was 29 at the time he was charged with the murder; Charles Fuller was also charged in the crime.

While recreational marijuana use may have recently been made legal in California, drug offenses are still a problem in Los Angeles and across the state. Recently it was reported that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Kenneth Collins was charged with operating a large-scale drug trafficking scheme along with three others who were arrested by FBI agents during a sting operation; he had been under investigation by agents for several months due to suspicions he was dealing in drugs.

Possession and sales of illicit drugs and narcotics is a huge problem in LA and surrounding areas. In fact, given the opioid epidemic it’s a growing problem across the nation. From oxycodone, fentanyl and cocaine to heroin, methamphetamine and other substances, people are finding themselves facing criminal charges that could result in punishment including a few months in jail to years or even decades behind prison bars depending on the person’s criminal history, type and amount of drug involved and other factors.

In December a Riverside couple was charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia after they were allegedly selling methamphetamine from their home and using a drone to deliver the illegal substance. News reports also stated unpackaged powders believed to contain fentanyl were discovered at the home.

Any criminal defense attorney would agree that in America, the drug problem is huge.  Today, jails and prisons are overcrowded across the nation as America’s War on Drugs continues.  However, in recent months lawmakers, advocacy groups and the general public have realized that placing offenders guilty of non-violent drug crimes in prison and jail has resulted in negative repercussions.  Because of this, California and numerous other states have begun to reconsider the harsh punishment handed down to those less serious offenders.  As a result, there are various alternative sentencing options which individuals may be eligible for when charged with specified drug crimes.

In Los Angeles, marketing of illegal drugs is an especially profitable industry.  However, there is no question that illegal drug manufacturing and distributing leads to more serious criminal activity.  Drug abusers not only commit robbery and even murder in their quest to obtain illegal narcotics and other substances, lives are destroyed every day because of addiction.

The good news in all of this is that California has taken the necessary steps to change the policies which have long been in place regarding certain drug crimes.  In the past, lawmakers, police, and prosecutors were focused on one thing – making those who allegedly committed a drug crime, regardless of its seriousness, pay in the form of jail/prison time, steep fines, and other harsh penalties.  Now, many of the changes that have been made focus on helping those with drug addiction and/or abuse problems get the help they need to get back on a positive path, rather than punishment.  For those who qualify, Los Angeles County now offers alternative sentencing options for some drug offenses.

On Tuesday August 27, former Wake Forest football players Devin Bolling and Duran Lowe had misdemeanor drug charges against them dismissed.  The two athletes had been suspended last year after being arrested on drug charges, which violated athletics department policy.

According to a news article at, Lowe pleaded guilty in February to possession of drug paraphernalia, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and possession of stolen goods.  He was initially charged with maintaining a dwelling for controlled substances, a misdemeanor offense, and felony possession with intent to sell and distribute marijuana.  Police had received a report regarding possible drug activity in the apartment the two athletes shared.  Upon searching the apartment (which the suspects apparently allowed), police discovered digital scales and marijuana.

Los Angeles drug crime attorneys understand that it makes do difference what state you live in; when a young college-age student gets into trouble with the law, it is extremely stressful for both the student and the parents.  Teens and young adults make mistakes, as even adults do.  It is important to note that not every case involving drugs is vigorously prosecuted, and there are alternatives available in some situations that focus on rehabilitation rather than criminal punishment.

On Thursday August 15, 57 members of an alleged Mexico – Los Angeles drug trafficking ring were indicted by federal prosecutors.  Authorities claim various illegal drugs were smuggled from Mexico into LA including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Eighteen of the alleged traffickers were arrested by DEA agents.  According to a news article at the Los Angeles Times, the drugs were being smuggled into California in PVC pipe and concealed compartments.

An investigation into the drug smuggling operation began in early 2011.  Since that time, authorities have seized 20 kilos of brown heroin, 30 kilograms of cocaine, 16 kilograms of white heroin, and over 2,400 lbs. of methamphetamine.  News reports also claim 18 firearms and over $1.2 million in cash have been recovered in connection with the alleged narcotics transactions.

Mexico-based Miguel Angel Molinero-Castro was the initial focus of the investigation, believed to have stashed significant quantities of controlled substances in PVC pipe which were further hidden inside the axles of tractor-trailer rigs.  These shipments were received at South Gate and Wilmington truck yards.  Authorities claim the distribution network also encompassed some suburban homes in Sylmar and Sun Valley.

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