A 68-year-old Austin man and a 45-year-old Lockhart resident were found guilty following their recent trial for being members of a heroin distribution ring. Both men will be sentenced on the charges at a hearing in May. Members of the ring were accused of processing the heroin at an Austin restaurant owned by the family of the 68-year-old defendant.
The men were only two of 15 defendants arrested on suspicion of being members of the Houston-based ring. The arrests were part of an investigation that lasted for an entire year, and one of the suspects died prior to the trial. The remaining 12 suspects pleaded guilty to the drug distribution charges.
Prosecutors allege that the members of the ring sold heroin throughout Central Texas, earning amounts between $3,400 and $6,250 daily from May 2011 to June 2012. More than 17 kilograms of the drug were sold before the members of the ring were apprehended.
Under federal law, heroin is a Schedule I controlled substance. Distribution of more than one kilogram of a Schedule I substance, including heroin, is punishable by 10 years to life imprisonment for a first offense. A second offense is punishable by a 20 years to life sentence, and a third or subsequent offense carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Given the severity of these charges, any persons accused or charged with violation of federal drug trafficking statutes may want to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about possible ways to defend against or mitigate the charges. An attorney may also be able to arrange entry into a treatment for individuals suffering from addiction as an alternative to an ineffective jail sentence by negotiating with the prosecution.
Source: Houston Chronicle, "Federal jury convicts 2 of heroin distribution," Feb. 15, 2013