Prosecutions for April 2014

Referring Agency: Drug Enforcement Administration

Number Latest Month 1,053
Percent Change from previous month 5.9
Percent Change from 1 year ago -11.8
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -28.1
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -31.9
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during April 2014 the government reported 1053 new prosecutions for these matters. Those cases were referred by the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 5.9 percent 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 2014 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was down (-11.8%). 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 28.1 percent from levels reported in 2009.

Bar and line plot of FYMON

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 2014 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 44.3 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (27.8%), " Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (24%). 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 2014, 214 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 21 U.S.C Section 841 involving "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A". This was the lead charge for 55.1 percent of all magistrate filings in April.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (32.7%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In April 2014, 839 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during April there were an additional 207 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 2014 referred by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 367 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 344 2 2 2 More
18 USC 1791 - Providing or possessing contraband in prison 11 3 34 - More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 9 4 3 3 More
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 8 5 4 7 More
18 USC 1960 - Prohibition of illegal money transmitting business 8 5 - - More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 6 7 9 15 More
21 USC 959 - Possession, manufacture, or distribution for purpo 4 8 13 29 More
46 USC 70503 - Possession control substance on vessel subject to jurisdiction of US 4 8 13 11 More
18 USC 4 - Misprision of Felony 2 10 11 18 More
18 USC 846 - Explosives - Additional powers of the Secretary 2 10 8 18 More
21 USC 963 - Attempt and conspiracy 2 10 6 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 "Providing or possessing contraband in prison" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1791.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions — up 1000 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 — 650 percent — was registered for prosecutions under " Explosives - Additional powers of the Secretary " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 846 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 77.8 percent — was "Other US Code Section " (Title U.S.C Section ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 34.9 percent — was for filings where the lead charge was " Attempt and conspiracy " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In April 2014 the Justice Department said the government brought 399.9 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 3,773 22 1 62 54 More
N Mexico 3,740 65 2 5 5 More
Ark, E 3,228 44 3 24 34 More
Tenn, W 2,047 27 4 27 24 More
Vermont 1,917 10 5 45 79 More
Mich, W 1,712 49 6 56 58 More
Ga, S 1,559 20 7 16 14 More
Texas, S 1,415 105 8 2 1 More
Ken, E 1,158 21 9 11 9 More
Texas, N 1,098 63 10 12 17 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of North Dakota — with 3773 prosecutions as compared with 399.9 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during April 2014.

  • The District of New Mexico ranked 2nd. The District of New Mexico was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington), now ranked 9th , and Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth) at 10th In the same order, these districts ranked 11th and 12th one year ago and 9th and 17th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 136.4 percent — was Western District of Michigan (Grand Rapids). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 105.6 percent — was Vermont .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 41.7 percent — was Southern District of Georgia (Savannah).  This was the same district that had the largest increase — 56.3 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 crime cases of this type during April 2014 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
O'Connor, Reed Charles Texas, N 43 1 475 596 More
Jonker, Robert James Mich, W 38 2 475 166 More
Ellison, Keith P. Texas, S 36 3 561 517 More
Adelman, Lynn S. Wisc, E 27 4 394 272 More
Mays, Samuel H., Jr. Tenn, W 26 5 56 313 More
Holmes, J[ames] Leon Ark, E 22 6 333 367 More
Erickson, Ralph R. N Dakota 22 6 33 33 More
Bolton, Susan Ritchie Arizona 18 8 67 251 More
Conrad, Glen Edward Virg, W 18 8 165 97 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 17 10 1 3 More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

A total of 6 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 4 judges were from other districts.

  • Judge Reed Charles O'Connor in the Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth) ranked 1st with 43 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Robert James Jonker in the Western District of Michigan (Grand Rapids) ranked 2nd with 38 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Keith P. Ellison in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 3rd with 36 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: July 3, 2014
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