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About the Law

Federal prosecutors frequently choose to charge individual defendants with a variety of crimes under a number of different statutes. An organized crime figure who committed a murder while negotiating a drug deal, for example, might be indicted for murder, drug dealing, and numerous organized crime and conspiracy offenses. During the data collection process, the Justice Department asks the prosecutors to select the "lead charge" on all referrals that they handle. Obviously, these judgments often are somewhat subjective when multiple serious charges are involved. Sometimes, they are influenced by the political needs of the moment: an administration, for example, that wants to show the public it is concentrating on organized crime or threats to the nation's internal security.

Here then, as viewed through the lens of federal prosecutors across the country, are the most frequently cited "lead charges" involved in referrals coming from the DEA. The complete text of these frequently cited lead charges can be viewed by selecting the particular statute of interest in the following table.

Click on statute to view text

U.S. Code Description
 08 USC 01326 Reentry of deported alien
 18 USC 00004 Misprision of Felony
 18 USC 00371 Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US
 18 USC 00846 Explosives - Additional powers of the Secretary
 18 USC 00922 Firearms; Unlawful acts
 18 USC 00924 Firearms; Penalties
 18 USC 01512 Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant
 18 USC 01791 Providing or possessing contraband in prison
 18 USC 01951 Hobbs Act
 18 USC 01952 Racketeering -interstate/foreign travel/transport
 18 USC 01956 Laundering of monetary instruments
 18 USC 01960 Prohibition of illegal money transmitting business
 18 USC 01962 RICO - prohibited activities
 18 USC 03048 Commitment to another district; removal--Rule 40
 18 USC 03146 Penalty for failure to appear
 18 USC 03583 Term of supervised release after imprisonment
 21 USC 00331 Fed Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act - Prohibited acts
 21 USC 00333 Fed Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act - Penalties
 21 USC 00841 Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A
 21 USC 00843 Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C
 21 USC 00844 Penalty for simple possession
 21 USC 00846 Attempt and conspiracy
 21 USC 00848 Continuing criminal enterprise
 21 USC 00952 Importation of controlled substances
 21 USC 00959 Possession, manufacture, or distribution for purpo
 21 USC 00963 Attempt and conspiracy
 31 USC 05313 Reports on domestic coins and currency transaction
 46 USC 70503 Possession control substance on vessel subject to jurisdiction of US
 46 USC 70506 Penalties


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