Prosecutions for April 2013

Referring Agency: Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Number Latest Month 937
Percent Change from previous month 16.4
Percent Change from 1 year ago -6.8
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -12.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -15.0
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during April 2013 the government reported 937 new prosecutions for these matters. Those cases were referred by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 16.4% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants charged 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 (-6.8 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 12.5 percent from levels reported in 2008.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in prosecutions

The decrease from the levels five years ago in prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of 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.

Cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.

The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in April 2013 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 53.4 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (20.4%), " Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (20.3%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (2.8%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In April 2013, 99 defendants in 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 April the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 involving the "Firearms; Unlawful acts". This was the lead charge for 61.6 percent of all magistrate filings in April.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (5.1%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In April 2013, 838 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during April there were an additional 82 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 April.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during April 2013referred by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 444 1 1 1 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 175 2 2 2 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 57 3 3 3 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 22 4 4 4 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 12 5 5 5 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 6 6 7 8 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 5 7 6 6 More
18 USC 554 - Smuggling goods from the United States 4 8 9 - More
18 USC 111 - Assaulting, resisting, impeding certain officers 3 9 15 23 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 2 10 19 13 More
26 USC 5841 - Registration of firearms 2 10 19 16 More
Table 2: Top charges filed

  • "Firearms; Unlawful acts" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Firearms; Unlawful acts" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841. "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846. "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 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 166.7 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 26 U.S.C Section 5841 that involves " Registration of firearms ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—100 percent—was registered for prosecutions under " Assaulting, resisting, impeding certain officers " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 111 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 66.7 percent—was Smuggling goods from the United States (Title 18 U.S.C Section 554 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 81.8 percent—was for filings where the lead charge was " Bank robbery and incidental crimes " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In April 2013 the Justice Department said the government brought 359.6 prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of 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 prosecutions to receive a ranking.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
N Dakota 4,267 23 1 64 57 More
Ark, W 2,412 26 2 74 83 More
Mo, W 2,223 57 3 12 8 More
Ala, S 2,036 14 4 29 35 More
Tenn, E 1,767 37 5 5 30 More
Tenn, W 1,544 20 6 20 4 More
N Car, E 1,477 45 7 1 5 More
Ga, S 1,313 16 8 23 10 More
N Mexico 1,194 20 9 29 49 More
Delaware 1,085 8 10 83 49 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of North Dakota—with 4267 prosecutions as compared with 359.6 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during April 2013.

  • The Western District of Arkansas (Fort Smith) ranked 2nd.

  • Western District of Missouri (Kansas City) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Western District of Missouri (Kansas City), now ranked 3rd , and Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) at 6th In the same order, these districts ranked 12th and 20th one year ago and 8th and 4th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 128.6 percent—was North Dakota . Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 181.8 percent—was Western District of Arkansas (Fort Smith).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 29.8 percent—was Southern District of Alabama (Mobile).  But over the past five years, Southern District of Georgia (Savannah) showed the largest drop— 37.9 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 crime cases of this type during April 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Cerezo, Carmen Consuelo Puer Rico 42 1 20 351 More
Besosa, Francisco Augusto Puer Rico 42 1 23 - More
Hickey, Susan Owens Ark, W 22 3 430 - More
Hovland, Daniel L. N Dakota 22 3 86 134 More
Nugent, Donald C. Ohio, N 22 3 86 164 More
Flanagan, Louise W. N Car, E 16 6 14 6 More
Greer, J. Ronnie Tenn, E 16 6 45 59 More
Whipple, Dean Mo, W 15 8 45 82 More
Sachs, Howard Frederic Mo, W 13 9 86 6 More
Boyle, Terrence William N Car, E 12 10 4 18 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 filings per capita, while the remaining 3 judges were from other districts.

  • Judges Carmen Consuelo Cerezo in the District of Puerto Rico and Francisco Augusto Besosa in the District of Puerto Rico ranked 1st with 42 defendants in cases.

  • Judges Susan Owens Hickey in the Western District of Arkansas (Fort Smith), Daniel L. Hovland in the District of North Dakota and Donald C. Nugent in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 3rd with 22 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: June 10, 2013
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