Narcotics/Drugs Prosecutions for May 2013

Number Latest Month 1,858
Percent Change from previous month -10.6
Percent Change from 1 year ago -7.4
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -4.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -18.6
Table 1: Criminal Narcotics/Drugs Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during May 2013 the government reported 1858 new narcotics/drugs prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 10.6% 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 (-7.4 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 4.7 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 May 2013 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 77.2 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (19.7%), " Drugs-Simple Drug Possession" (3.1%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for narcotics/drugs prosecutions in May 2013 was DEA accounting for 39 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of narcotics/drugs referrals were: DHS (30% ), FBI (14%), ATF (5%), Local (5%). 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 May 2013, 757 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 May 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 40.6 percent of all magistrate filings in May.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (36.3%), "21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances" (14.9%), "21 USC 844 - Penalty for simple possession" (5.4%).

Narcotics/Drugs Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In May 2013, 1101 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during May there were an additional 523 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 May.

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 May 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 750 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 595 2 2 2 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 164 3 3 3 More
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 17 4 8 6 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 15 5 4 8 More
18 USC 1962 - RICO - prohibited activities 9 6 4 9 More
21 USC 963 - Attempt and conspiracy 9 6 6 4 More
21 USC 843 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C 7 8 13 11 More
21 USC 813 - Treatment of Controlled Substance Analogues 6 9 - - More
21 USC 844 - Penalty for simple possession 6 9 9 5 More
46 USC 70506 - Penalties 6 9 15 13 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 32.3 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 21 U.S.C Section 843 that involves " Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—161 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 84.5 percent—was RICO - prohibited activities (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1962 ). This was the same statute that had the largest decrease— 63.9 %—when compared with five years ago.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In May 2013 the Justice Department said the government brought 634.8 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  
Cal, S 5,589 150 1 2 3 More
Ill, S 3,109 33 2 66 55 More
Wyoming 2,866 13 3 90 32 More
Ark, E 2,858 38 4 15 62 More
Ken, E 2,601 47 5 36 21 More
Texas, W 2,290 117 6 3 1 More
N Mexico 2,269 38 7 8 5 More
Arizona 1,801 99 8 1 6 More
D. C. 1,801 9 8 82 57 More
Vermont 1,737 9 10 78 59 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Southern District of California (San Diego)—with 5589 prosecutions as compared with 634.8 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during May 2013. 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.

  • The Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis) ranked 2nd.

  • District of Wyoming is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock), now ranked 4th , and Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington) at 5th In the same order, these districts ranked 15th and 36th one year ago and 62nd and 21st five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of narcotics/drugs prosecutions compared to one year ago— 420 percent—was Wyoming . Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 71.4 percent—was Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of narcotics/drugs prosecutions— 53.1 percent—was Arizona .  But over the past five years, Washington, D.C. (Washington) showed the largest drop— 61.7 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 May 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Wright, Susan Webber Ark, E 23 1 48 179 More
Huff, Marilyn L. Cal, S 19 2 31 35 More
Gilbert, John Phil Ill, S 19 2 125 179 More
Ramos, Nelva Gonzales Texas, S 19 2 16 - More
Mordue, Norman A. N. Y., N 18 5 232 291 More
Barrett, Michael Ryan Ohio, S 18 5 277 561 More
Hanen, Andrew S. Texas, S 17 7 35 39 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 17 7 1 1 More
Collins, Raner Christercunean Arizona 16 9 7 43 More
Sammartino, Janis Lynn Cal, S 15 10 29 65 More
Smith, Walter Scott, Jr. Texas, W 15 10 58 19 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 4 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Susan Webber Wright in the Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock) ranked 1st with 23 defendants in narcotics/drugs cases.

  • Judges Marilyn L. Huff in the Southern District of California (San Diego), John Phil Gilbert in the Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis) and Nelva Gonzales Ramos in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 2nd with 19 defendants in narcotics/drugs cases.

Report Generated: July 22, 2013
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