Narcotics/Drugs Convictions for December 2012

Number Latest Month 1,699
Percent Change from previous month -3.7
Percent Change from 1 year ago -3.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 9.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 2.7
Table 1: Criminal Narcotics/Drugs Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2012 the government reported 1699 new narcotics/drugs convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 3.7% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants convicted for narcotics/drugs-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. (See Table 1)

When monthly 2012 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was down (-3 percent). Convictions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are up 9 percent from levels reported in 2007.

The growth in these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall increase in narcotics/drugs convictions is 2.7 percent instead of 9 percent. The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases by the Justice Department.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in narcotics/drugs convictions

The increase from the levels five years ago in narcotics/drugs convictions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of narcotics/drugs convictions of this type recorded on a month-to-month basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court, the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.

Within the broad category of narcotics/drugs, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.

Case types within narcotics/drugs are

  • Drug Trafficking

  • Simple Drug Possession

  • Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)

  • Major Project Triggerlock Prosecutions (OCDETF)

  • Other Triggerlock Prosecutions (OCDETF)

The largest number of convictions of these matters in December 2012 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 66.5 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (31.6%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for narcotics/drugs convictions in December 2012 was DEA accounting for 42 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of narcotics/drugs convictions were: DHS (26% ), FBI (14%), ATF (6%), Local (5%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of convictions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3: Convictions by investigative agency

Narcotics/Drugs Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In December 2012, 148 defendants in narcotics/drugs cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court where subsequent proceedings take place.

In the magistrate courts in December the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 involving the "Attempt and conspiracy". This was the lead charge for 72.3 percent of all magistrate convictions in December.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (14.2%), "21 USC 844 - Penalty for simple possession" (11.5%).

Narcotics/Drugs Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In December 2012, 1551 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there were an additional 0 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and therefore cover all matters filed in district court during December.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the convictions of narcotics/drugs matters filed in U.S. District Court during December 2012.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 760 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 564 2 2 2 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 98 3 3 3 More
21 USC 963 - Attempt and conspiracy 19 4 4 4 More
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 15 5 9 5 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 14 6 5 9 More
46 USC 70506 - Penalties 11 7 12 21 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 7 8 6 13 More
18 USC 1962 - RICO - prohibited activities 6 9 10 14 More
21 USC 844 - Penalty for simple possession 6 9 7 6 More
Table 2: Top charges for convictions

  • "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846. "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Importation of controlled substances" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 952. "Importation of controlled substances" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 952 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in convictions—up 100 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1962 that involves " RICO - prohibited activities ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—400 percent—was registered for convictions under " Penalties " (Title 46 U.S.C Section 70506 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in convictions compared to one year ago—down 54.4 percent—was Firearms; Penalties (Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in convictions— 36.1 percent—was for convictions where the lead charge was " Penalty for simple possession " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 844 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In December 2012 the Justice Department said the government obtained 606.2 narcotics/drugs convictions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of narcotics/drugs convictions in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

The districts registering the largest number of convictions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3. Districts must have at least 5 narcotics/drugs convictions to receive a ranking.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Cal, S 4,844 130 1 3 2 More
N Dakota 3,710 20 2 77 69 More
Texas, W 2,721 139 3 2 1 More
Tenn, E 2,531 53 4 12 51 More
Tenn, W 2,317 30 5 54 38 More
W Virg, N 2,277 17 6 28 30 More
Ark, E 2,181 29 7 54 70 More
N Mexico 1,911 32 8 5 7 More
W Virg, S 1,559 12 9 24 61 More
Ala, S 1,454 10 10 42 40 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Southern District of California (San Diego)—with 4844 convictions as compared with 606.2 convictions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during December 2012. The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • The District of North Dakota ranked 2nd.

  • Western District of Texas (San Antonio) is now ranking 3rd. The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 for most frequent use five years ago.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville), now ranked 4th , and Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston) at 9th In the same order, these districts ranked 12th and 24th one year ago and 51st and 61st five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of narcotics/drugs convictions compared to one year ago— 119.1 percent—was Western District of Tennessee (Memphis). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 213.8 percent—was Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of narcotics/drugs convictions— 29.9 percent—was New Mexico .  This was the same district that had the largest increase— 32.4 percent—when compared with five years ago.

Top Ranked District Judges

At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new narcotics/drugs crime cases resulting in convictions of this type during December 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Crone, Marcia A. Texas, E 22 1 77 115 More
Moses, Alia Texas, W 21 2 5 - More
Dominguez, Daniel R. Puer Rico 18 3 30 449 More
Means, Terry R. Texas, N 17 4 167 173 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 17 4 3 1 More
Bencivengo, Cathy Ann Cal, S 16 6 688 - More
Wooten, Terry L. S Car 16 6 157 203 More
Smith, Walter Scott, Jr. Texas, W 16 6 15 44 More
Sparks, Sam Texas, W 15 9 50 246 More
Gonzalez, Irma Elsa Cal, S 14 10 44 48 More
Lorenz, M. James Cal, S 14 10 32 14 More
Crane, Randy Texas, S 14 10 6 21 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

A total of 7 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of narcotics/drugs convictions per capita, while the remaining 5 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 12 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Marcia A. Crone in the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) ranked 1st with 22 convicted in narcotics/drugs convictions.

  • Judge Alia Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd with 21 convicted in narcotics/drugs convictions. Judge Mosesalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago(ranked 5).

  • Judge Daniel R. Dominguez in the District of Puerto Rico ranked 3rd with 18 convicted in narcotics/drugs convictions.

Report Generated: February 20, 2013
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