Narcotics/Drugs Prosecutions for June 2013

Number Latest Month 1,989
Percent Change from previous month 2.3
Percent Change from 1 year ago -5.8
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -4.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -18.4
Table 1: Criminal Narcotics/Drugs Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during June 2013 the government reported 1989 new narcotics/drugs prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 2.3% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with 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 2013 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was down (-5.8 percent). Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 4.6 percent from levels reported in 2008.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in narcotics/drugs prosecutions

The leveling out from the levels five years ago in narcotics/drugs prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of narcotics/drugs prosecutions 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 prosecutions of these matters in June 2013 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 74.7 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (21.1%), " Drugs-Simple Drug Possession" (4.3%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for narcotics/drugs prosecutions in June 2013 was DEA accounting for 42 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of narcotics/drugs referrals were: DHS (27% ), ATF (7%), FBI (7%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3: Prosecutions by investigative agency

Narcotics/Drugs Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In June 2013, 797 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 June the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 21 U.S.C Section 841 involving the "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A". This was the lead charge for 41.3 percent of all magistrate filings in June.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (35.9%), "21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances" (13%), "21 USC 844 - Penalty for simple possession" (8.4%).

Narcotics/Drugs Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In June 2013, 1192 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during June there were an additional 515 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 June.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of narcotics/drugs matters filed in U.S. District Court during June 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 832 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 643 2 2 2 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 130 3 3 3 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 21 4 5 7 More
21 USC 963 - Attempt and conspiracy 14 5 4 4 More
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 9 6 7 6 More
18 USC 2118 - Robberies/burglaries w/controlled substances 8 7 - 21 More
21 USC 843 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C 5 8 14 9 More
18 USC 1791 - Providing or possessing contraband in prison 4 9 22 21 More
21 USC 844 - Penalty for simple possession 4 9 8 5 More
Table 2: Top charges filed

  • "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 prosecutions—up 50 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1791 that involves " Providing or possessing contraband in prison ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—179.1 percent—was registered for prosecutions under " Firearms; Unlawful acts " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 24.5 percent—was Penalty for simple possession (Title 21 U.S.C Section 844 ). This was the same statute that had the largest decrease— 53.8 %—when compared with five years ago.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In June 2013 the Justice Department said the government brought 667.2 narcotics/drugs prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.

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

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


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
N Dakota 8,719 47 1 35 78 More
Cal, S 5,440 146 2 2 3 More
W Virg, N 4,018 30 3 17 27 More
N Mexico 2,986 50 4 8 5 More
Ken, W 2,796 50 5 73 64 More
Texas, W 2,623 134 6 3 1 More
Ken, E 2,435 44 7 40 23 More
Texas, S 2,169 152 8 4 2 More
Alaska 2,103 12 9 64 70 More
Tenn, W 2,085 27 10 27 36 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of North Dakota—with 8719 prosecutions as compared with 667.2 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during June 2013.

  • The Southern District of California (San Diego) ranked 2nd. The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • Northern District of West Virginia (Wheeling) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Northern District of West Virginia (Wheeling), now ranked 3rd , and Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) at 10th In the same order, these districts ranked 17th and 27th one year ago and 27th and 36th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of narcotics/drugs prosecutions compared to one year ago— 138.5 percent—was Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 244.4 percent—was North Dakota .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of narcotics/drugs prosecutions— 36.8 percent—was Northern District of West Virginia (Wheeling).  But over the past five years, Western District of Texas (San Antonio) showed the largest drop— 44.3 percent.

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 of this type during June 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Kazen, George P. Texas, S 46 1 66 15 More
Reidinger, Martin Karl N Car, W 41 2 84 312 More
Erickson, Ralph R. N Dakota 33 3 43 105 More
Cerezo, Carmen Consuelo Puer Rico 30 4 12 245 More
Simpson, Charles Ralph, III Ken, W 28 5 730 519 More
Saldana, Diana Texas, S 27 6 90 697 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 26 7 1 2 More
Slomsky, Joel Harvey Penn, E 23 8 452 - More
McKinley, Joseph H., Jr. Ken, W 22 9 318 263 More
Fowlkes, John Thomas, Jr. Tenn, W 22 9 - - 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 filings per capita, while the remaining 3 judges were from other districts.

  • Judge George P. Kazen in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 1st with 46 defendants in narcotics/drugs cases.

  • Judge Martin Karl Reidinger in the Western District of North Carolina (Asheville) ranked 2nd with 41 defendants in narcotics/drugs cases.

  • Judge Ralph R. Erickson in the District of North Dakota ranked 3rd with 33 defendants in narcotics/drugs cases.

Report Generated: August 20, 2013
TRAC Copyright
Copyright 2013, TRAC Reports, Inc.

TRAC RSS Feed for this page Email Feed for this page Email this page