The Birmingham News is reporting four local men are facing a host of felony charges, including charges of drug trafficking as part of the Devils Disciples motorcycle gang.
The men, nicknamed Gun Control, Tatu, Jesus and Trouble, were arrested and charged as part of a sweep by the Federal Bureau of Investigations that resulted in 41 arrests on charges ranging from extortion and obstruction of justice to drug trafficking, robbery and murder.
Birmingham criminal defense lawyers frequently see the end results of arrests made as a part of such law enforcement operations. Frequently, these sweeps make a big splash in the media. But rarely is the media around six months or a year later when prosecutors start quietly reducing or dismissing charges and defendants begin beating the charges at trial.
The truth of the matter is that such large operations make for great public relations and permit law enforcement to show the taxpayers their hard-earned dollars at work. But they often make for weak criminal cases. Evidence may be missing, mishandled or lacking; a defendant may be lumped in with evidence from other cases; and multiple jurisdictions may further muddy the waters.
Often, too, a defendant may be charged with a crime, or charged an accomplice or as part of a conspiracy, as a way for law enforcement to attempt to intimidate insiders into cooperating. Under Alabama’s conspiracy statute ALA CODE § 13A-4-3, a person can be charged with a felony for not doing enough to prevent a felony crime, or for not reporting it to authortiies.
In other cases, a defendant may be hit with receiving stolen property charges (Alabama Law Section 13A-8-16-19), as a means of intimidating cooperation. In no case, should a suspect or defendant make any statements or agree to cooperate with authorities without first consulting with an experienced Alabama defense attorney.
No agreement you strike with police will be enforceable outside the presence of your attorney. In fact, charging decisions typically rest with the prosecutor or district attorney’s office, not with the boots on the ground. While there is much an experienced defense attorney can do in these cases, what is far more difficult to combat are the statements a defendent makes to law enforcement of his own accord.
You have the right to remain silent. Exercise it.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported 41 of the arrests were made in Michigan and Alabama. More than 60 guns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition were seized during the investigation, according to the media. There is no report, of course, on whether the gun ownership was illegal.
Eight meth labs were also dismantled.
The indictment alleges the Michigan motorcycle gang has regional chapters in several states, including Alabama, which engage in criminal conduct for financial gain — particularly the distribution of narcotics. Three of the Alabama members were also charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which will subject them to seizure laws and other federal penalties in the event of a conviction.