25 people that have been accused of being members of a borderlands gang have been indicted by a Houston grand jury in a massive drug conspiracy involving racketeering, robbery, money laundering, and a death due to a shooting. Officials have stated that the gang has a national reach that formed in the early 1980s and uses a structure in which one person is in charge of activities in each city. Many of the defendants who are accused of engaging in the conspiracy are also charged with distributing various drugs including cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Named for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, RICO is designed to deal with organizations that allegedly commit crimes on an ongoing basis. RICO also makes it easier for law enforcement to convict individuals who might have had supervisory leadership roles in an organization. Because RICO penalties can be particularly severe, individuals who are charged under federal RICO laws frequently require the assistance of skilled legal counsel.
The Elements of a RICO Charge
Passed by Congress in the 1970’s, RICO was created during a time when organized crime was rampant and law enforcement had a difficult time prosecuting involved individuals. To convict an individual with violating RICO, prosecutors must prove that an individual was engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity connected to a criminal enterprise. Racketeering can include a variety of activities like arson, bankruptcy fraud, bribery, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, embezzlement of union funds, extortion, gambling, kidnapping, money laundering, murder, robbery, or securities fraud. The federal law states 35 crimes that can constitute racketeering activity. Law enforcement also must demonstrate that a corporation, group, partnership, or other type of entity that exists even without the illegal conduct in question. There must also be a pattern of racketeering activity with some degree of continuity in the action.
Potential Penalties Under RICO
Each violation under RICO has the potential to result in fines of up to $25,000 and up to 10 years in federal prison. Individuals can also be charged with payment of restitution to victims and forfeiture of assets.It must be emphasized that these charges relate to each count and law enforcement often charges individuals with multiple RICO violations. In addition to RICO charges, individuals can also be charged with the underlying crimes, as well.
To create a strong defense to a RICO charge, individuals frequently require the assistance of an attorney with experience in defending against racketeering charges. Some of the various defenses that individuals can raise to respond to RICO charges include demonstrating that law enforcement conducted an illegal or improper procedure, showing insufficient evidence, proving factual innocence, or showing an individual has a lack of knowledge of the illegal activity in question.
Obtain the Assistance of a Knowledgeable Decatur Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are faced with a federal RICO charge, it is a wise idea to immediately contact strong and experienced legal counsel like the attorneys at Federal Criminal Law Center in Decatur, Georgia who can fight to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner.