Prosecutions for February 2014

Referring Agency: Drug Enforcement Administration

Number Latest Month 823
Percent Change from previous month 7.7
Percent Change from 1 year ago -11.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -24.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -29.2
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during February 2014 the government reported 823 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 7.7% 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 (-11.7 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 24.5 percent from levels reported in 2009.

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 2014 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 52.4 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (23.2%), " Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (19.4%). 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 2014, 220 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 69.1 percent of all magistrate filings in February.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (14.5%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In February 2014, 603 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during February there were an additional 137 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 2014referred by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 283 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 234 2 2 2 More
31 USC 5313 - Reports on domestic coins and currency transaction 10 3 - - More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 7 4 3 4 More
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 6 5 5 6 More
18 USC 3146 - Penalty for failure to appear 5 6 26 13 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 4 7 4 11 More
21 USC 843 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C 3 8 7 4 More
21 USC 844 - Penalty for simple possession 3 8 17 7 More
21 USC 963 - Attempt and conspiracy 3 8 6 3 More
46 USC 70506 - Penalties 3 8 9 7 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 "Reports on domestic coins and currency transaction" under Title 31 U.S.C Section 5313.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions—up 200 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 3146 that involves " Penalty for failure to appear ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—47.1 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 33.9 percent—was Firearms; Unlawful acts (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 76.2 percent—was for filings where the lead charge was " Penalty for simple possession " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 844 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In February 2014 the Justice Department said the government brought 282.9 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  
La, E 1,768 24 1 68 43 More
Tenn, E 1,505 32 2 9 12 More
Vermont 1,342 7 3 57 86 More
N Mexico 1,208 21 4 5 5 More
Texas, W 1,183 65 5 2 2 More
N. Y., S 1,164 50 6 6 3 More
Ga, S 1,092 14 7 18 16 More
Montana 1,074 9 8 73 73 More
Texas, E 979 30 9 4 19 More
N Car, M 968 23 10 50 38 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans)—with 1768 prosecutions as compared with 282.9 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during February 2014.

  • The Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville) ranked 2nd. The Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville) was ranked 9 a year ago.

  • District of Vermont is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Southern District of Georgia (Savannah), now ranked 7th , and Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) at 10th In the same order, these districts ranked 18th and 50th one year ago and 16th and 38th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 125 percent—was Montana . Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 254.5 percent—was Vermont .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 64.9 percent—was Southern District of Georgia (Savannah).  This was the same district that had the largest increase— 70.3 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 February 2014 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Schofield, Lorna Gail N. Y., S 25 1 - - More
Schell, Richard A. Texas, E 21 2 4 142 More
Guyton, H. Bruce Tenn, E 18 3 104 432 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 18 3 1 1 More
Fleissig, Audrey Goldstein Mo, E 17 5 162 - More
Zainey, Jay C. La, E 16 6 276 432 More
Smith, G. R. Ga, S 14 7 8 8 More
Briones, David Texas, W 13 8 12 79 More
Moses, Alia Texas, W 12 9 26 - More
Middlebrooks, Donald M. Fla, S 11 10 470 92 More
O'Connor, Reed Charles Texas, N 11 10 470 584 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

A total of 8 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. (Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Lorna Gail Schofield in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) ranked 1st with 25 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Richard A. Schell in the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) ranked 2nd with 21 defendants in cases. Judge Schellalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago(ranked 4).

  • Judges H. Bruce Guyton in the Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville) and Robert A. Junell in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 3rd with 18 defendants in cases. Judge Junell appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 1) and five years ago (rank 1).

Report Generated: April 24, 2014
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