Prosecutions for February 2013

Referring Agency: Drug Enforcement Administration

Number Latest Month 1,142
Percent Change from previous month 20.6
Percent Change from 1 year ago -7.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -14.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -19.3
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during February 2013 the government reported 1142 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 20.6% 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 (-7.7 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 14.6 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 February 2013 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 48 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (31.7%), " Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (16.9%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In February 2013, 281 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 February 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 52.3 percent of all magistrate filings in February.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (33.1%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In February 2013, 861 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during February there were an additional 188 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 February.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during February 2013referred by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 360 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 280 2 2 2 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 10 3 3 3 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 5 4 16 21 More
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 4 5 4 4 More
21 USC 843 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C 4 5 7 7 More
46 USC 70503 - Possession control substance on vessel subject to jurisdiction of US 4 5 5 13 More
18 USC 846 - Explosives - Additional powers of the Secretary 3 8 7 14 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 3 8 5 14 More
21 USC 960 - Prohibited acts A 3 8 - - 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 "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922. "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 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 16.7 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 371 that involves " Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—250 percent—was registered for prosecutions under " Importation of controlled substances " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 952 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 72.5 percent—was Possession control substance on vessel subject to jurisdiction of US (Title 46 U.S.C Section 70503 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 31.8 percent—was for filings where the lead charge was " Laundering of monetary instruments " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1956 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In February 2013 the Justice Department said the government brought 410 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  
Ken, E 2,712 49 1 22 6 More
Wash, E 2,119 26 2 50 52 More
Texas, W 2,075 106 3 1 1 More
Ill, S 2,072 22 4 56 46 More
N Mexico 1,911 32 5 7 8 More
Texas, E 1,664 49 6 6 6 More
Miss, S 1,237 19 7 68 58 More
Tenn, E 1,194 25 8 21 37 More
Maine 1,092 12 9 61 66 More
R. I. 1,025 9 10 84 77 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington)—with 2712 prosecutions as compared with 410 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during February 2013.

  • The Eastern District of Washington (Spokane) ranked 2nd.

  • Western District of Texas (San Antonio) is now ranking 3rd. The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 for most frequent use five years ago.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville), now ranked 8th , and Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington) at 1st In the same order, these districts ranked 21st and 22nd one year ago and 37th and 6th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 170.8 percent—was Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 167.9 percent—was Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 30.5 percent—was Western District of Texas (San Antonio).  But over the past five years, Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington) showed the largest drop— 17 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 February 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 45 1 1 2 More
Crone, Marcia A. Texas, E 37 2 5 3 More
Thapar, Amul Roger Ken, E 34 3 273 478 More
Yeakel, Earl Leroy, III Texas, W 29 4 - 351 More
Gwin, James S. Ohio, N 16 5 503 - More
Nielsen, William Fremming Wash, E 15 6 68 167 More
Underhill, Stefan R. Conn 14 7 606 478 More
Marten, John Thomas Kansas 13 8 320 218 More
Herrera, Judith C. N Mexico 13 8 139 478 More
Nathan, Alison Julie N. Y., S 13 8 503 - More
Jordan, Robert Leon Tenn, E 13 8 503 - More
Hanen, Andrew S. Texas, S 13 8 91 167 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 5 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 12 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Robert A. Junell in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 1st with 45 defendants in cases. Judge Junell appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 1) and five years ago (rank 2).

  • Judge Marcia A. Crone in the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) ranked 2nd with 37 defendants in cases. Judge Crone appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 5) and five years ago (rank 3).

  • Judge Amul Roger Thapar in the Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington) ranked 3rd with 34 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: April 23, 2013
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