Prosecutions for August 2017

Referring Agency: Drug Enforcement Administration

Number Latest Month 988
Percent Change from previous month -1.9
Percent Change from 1 year ago 3.3
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
-15.4
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
-21.5
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during August 2017 the government reported 988 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 down 1.9 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 2017 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (3.3%). 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 15.4 percent from levels reported in 2012.

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 August 2017 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 50.2 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (28.8%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (16.6%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In August 2017, 231 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 August 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 62.3 percent of all magistrate filings in August.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (15.6%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In August 2017, 757 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August there were an additional 194 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 August.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during August 2017 referred by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 375 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 235 2 2 2 More
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 19 3 8 5 More
18 USC 1958 - Interstate commerce facilities - murder for hire 14 4 - - More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 9 5 3 3 More
21 USC 963 - Attempt and conspiracy 9 5 9 4 More
21 USC 843 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C 3 7 7 12 More
46 USC 70506 - Penalties 3 7 6 11 More
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 2 9 19 17 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 2 9 19 14 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 "Laundering of monetary instruments" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1956. "Laundering of monetary instruments" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1956 was ranked 8 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions — up 250 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1956 that involves " Laundering of monetary instruments ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 280 percent — was registered for prosecutions under " Penalties " (Title 46 U.S.C Section 70506 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 56.3 percent — was " Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 843 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 30.4 percent — was for filings where the lead charge was " Attempt and conspiracy " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In August 2017 the Justice Department said the government brought 355.1 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 3,488 22 1 40 69 More
N Mexico 1,899 33 2 3 8 More
Kansas 1,813 44 3 14 5 More
Okla, E 1,605 10 4 80 88 More
Ga, S 1,456 19 5 32 50 More
Cal, S 1,345 39 6 13 14 More
Texas, W 1,100 64 7 1 1 More
Ken, E 1,092 20 8 20 36 More
Ark, E 1,024 14 9 19 38 More
Tenn, W 915 12 10 47 34 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of North Dakota — with 3488 prosecutions as compared with 355.1 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during August 2017.

  • The District of New Mexico ranked 2nd. The District of New Mexico was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 8 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • District of Kansas is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Southern District of California (San Diego), now ranked 6th , and Kansas at 3rd In the same order, these districts ranked 13th and 14th one year ago and 14th and 5th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 82.8 percent — was Southern District of California (San Diego). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 81.5 percent — was Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 33.4 percent — was New Mexico .  But over the past five years, Kansas showed the largest drop — 55.8 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 August 2017 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 30 1 1 1 More
Waxse, David J. Kansas 25 2 - - More
Adams, John R. Ohio, N 17 3 274 - More
Hovland, Daniel L. N Dakota 16 4 274 290 More
Black, Timothy Seymour Ohio, S 16 4 - - More
Wood, Kimba Maureen N. Y., S 14 6 540 587 More
Fitzwater, Sidney Allen Texas, N 14 6 17 338 More
Gutierrez, Philip S. Cal, C 13 8 540 - More
Mueller, Kimberly Jo Cal, E 12 9 449 55 More
Bashant, Cynthia Ann Cal, S 12 9 226 - More
Crane, Randy Texas, S 12 9 57 19 More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

A total of 4 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 7 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Robert A. Junell in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 1st with 30 defendants in cases. Judge Junell appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 1) and five years ago (rank 1).

  • Judge David J. Waxse in the District of Kansas ranked 2nd with 25 defendants in cases.

  • Judge John R. Adams in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 3rd with 17 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: September 19, 2017
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