It would appear that it is that time again…time for a new fancy named police operation. This time, the target is the drug trade. This time it yielded at least 20 defendants. This time, it was “Operation Rodeo”. Here is Attorney Sam’s take on it.

Operation Rodeo was a three-year-long probe into alleged drug trafficking which is said to have stretched from Springfield to Lawrence. According to law enforcement, this criminal investigation was sparked by the discovery of $2.7 million in a tractor-trailer. The operation was spearheaded by the Drug Enforcement Administrating (“DEA”). It targeted 39 individuals all together. On Monday, 20 of those targeted were arrested. They are expected to all have appeared in Boston’s federal court today and tomorrow.

The 97-page affidavit which was filed with the court indicates that this was a multi-pronged investigation which targeted alleged stash houses and drug dens in Lawrence, Haverhill, Springfield, Billerica and Charlestown. Law Enforcement adds that the probe’s primary target, Julio Vincente, moved massive amounts of cocaine and heroin throughout Eastern Massachusetts using these locations. The alleged drug conspiracy was not limited to Massachusetts, but also involved other locations, such as Rhode Island and Mexico.

According to Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, this was the Hub’s biggest drug takedown in the last decade.

You may be wondering how such an investigation happens.

According to the affidavit filed with the court, DEA agents used a series of wiretaps, which apparently brought them to a restaurant owner, whom they claim to be a middleman, who was allegedly shipping cocaine from Mexico and distributing them to other dealers. The wiretap came into being when, in June, 2009, when state police tailed another unidentified target, who brought two “heavily weighted” suitcases to a Woburn hotel, where police later stopped a tractor-trailer with Florida plates and found $2,714,440. Said target, whose name has been redacted by law enforcement, led police to a “stash location” in Methuen where police found another soon-to-be defendant and, in various seizures, more than $1.1 million in alleged drug proceeds.

The complex investigation grew to identify runners and other dealers, leading to a series of traffic stops that produced 24 kilos in a van out of New York in July 2011, 400 grams in a December 2011 stop and another 130 kilos in another stop in June, the affidavit reads.

Each of the 20 defendants arrested face charges of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilos of cocaine and a kilo or more of heroin.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Search, Seizure And Drug Conspiracies

How do all these alleged conspirators get caught like this? It must be true that criminals are not very bright.”

Actually, that is not it at all. First of all, looking at these defendants as another species called “criminals” is a fallacy that can turn on you.

Some of these folks could actually be innocent. Also, even those who are guilty are simply other human beings who made decisions that you or I would not make. In my experience, some are bright and some are not so bright.

Just like the rest of us.

However, if that is your conclusion, you are looking on the wrong side of the equation.

Over the past many years, law enforcement, particularly those in the federal realm, have gotten better and better at what they do. No, it is not simply that they are all members of Mensa (although some are exceptionally bright), but the technology has blossomed.

Look around your home. Look at all the digital records, Ipads, Iphones, WiFi devices and so on. Not so many years ago, these were not found in so many homes. Well, guess what? The government has access to these types of things too. In fact, they have more.

They also have something very important that you do not have.

Especially since the travesty of September 11, 2001, the federal government has all kinds of powers to wield against its citizens in the name of national security.

“What does that have to do with this? Those safeguards were set up to protect us against outside forces, such as foreign terrorists, who want to bring our country down.”

Yes, I suppose that that is what most of us believe. It was probably the original idea too. However, original ideas often morph depending on the needs of the day. As such, many of these “protections” have been tools easily used by law enforcement to aid them in other, more domestic, causes such as drug traffickers.

Of course, the argument could be made that it is a logical extension. After all, if things like the Patriot Act were created to protect our country from things which could potentially bring it down, why not the drug trade? Why not other crimes? After all, crime is bad for the country, isn’t it?

You may think it is fair and just, or you may think it is a perversion of the original intent of both these Acts and the Constitution. The fact remains, however, that these tools exist.

There is a problem, though.

Tools are only as good as the folks who use them. The folks who use these tools are human beings.

Human beings are flawed. They make mistakes. They have hidden agendas. Some are downright dishonest.

This is why there is supposed to be judicial oversight in the use of many of these search and seizure tools like wire-taps. It is why if you tape someone without their knowledge (in Massachusetts), it is a felony. But law enforcement can do it under certain circumstances.

Bright or honest as you might be, you will not always know when you are either a suspect or communicating with a suspect. Nevertheless, you would be surprised at how many times the latter can make you a suspect as well.

This is why if you do sense you are under investigation, this Boston criminal lawyer suggests you retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is the best, if not only, thing you can do to protect yourself and your rights.

And your freedom.

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