Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Attorney Sam’s Take: Ongoing Federal Criminal Investigation Yields 23 More Heroin Suspects In Raids Throughout Massachusetts

Many experienced criminal defense attorneys are going to be needed for the 23 alleged heroin dealers arrested in a large raid yesterday. The ongoing joint investigation by federal and Massachusetts law enforcement yielded arrests throughout the Commonwealth, but primarily Brockton.

Naturally, there was an official on hand to accept credit. United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz delivered the news that authorities are committed to prosecuting offenders.

“Today’s arrests should be a clear signal to those distributing drugs in our neighborhoods that the federal government is aggressively working with state and local law enforcement to track their movements, find their associates, and close down their operations,” she said.

And why shouldn’t she be taking advantage of the publicity? This ongoing investigation has, in less than one month, yielded the arrests of over 55 for narcotics and firearms in two busts alone!

This time, folks, it looks like they mean it!

As suspects were booked yesterday morning at the Brockton Police Station, the building overflowing because the station did not have enough space to hold them all inside, one had to wonder, “Really? All these people are major drug dealers?”

Well, major or not, the federal court was the scene once again of the multiple arraignments yesterday afternoon. Prosecutors relied heavily on court-issued authorization of wiretaps and on surveillance. A 126-page affidavit filed by DEA agents contained portions of phone conversations between four “large-scale heroin distributors” and their associates.

The affidavit contains dozens of examples of alleged drug encounters and statements allegedly made by the defendants during phone conversations that were monitored by authorities.

“Ok, Sam, let’s say, hypothetically, that I am not a major drug kingpin. What does this have to do with me?

Well, it can have a great deal to do with you. I call your attention to the words “…and their associates” above.

“So…what if I am not a major drug co-conspirator? Again, what message am I to take from today’s blog?”

How does the law, and perhaps more importantly law enforcement, define “associates”? Well, the truth is that it is a pretty vague term and is interpreted quite broadly.

I have told you repeatedly that investigators, particularly federal ones, often cast a large net in their investigations. There’s a reason for this. It gives them time to sort out the “big fish” and the “small fish” and then the smaller fish against the larger ones. You see, in criminal justice, it is often sort of a reverse natural selection. Deals are routinely made with the lesser desirable defendants to get information and testimony against the bigger targets.

Who gets to decide who is who? Prosecutors.

The law enables this. In order to be in a conspiracy, you just have to know about part of that conspiracy and aid it in some small way. Then, you can be charged with everything the conspiracy does.

“What if you do something that helps the conspiracy without knowing it?”

Who says you didn’t know it? You?

And therein lies the rub, folks as we have discussed in the past. The prosecution may pretend to honor the presumption of innocence in the courtroom, but during the time of investigation and indictment…the assumption of guilt prevails.

That is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible moment to advise and guide you…helping you minimize damage that the unrepresented can easily cause.

Should you wish said attorney to potentially be me, please feel free to call me to arrange a free initial consultation at 617-492-3000.

In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

For the original stories upon which today’s blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/11/19/raids_target_widespread_heroin_ring/

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