Drug Enforcement Administration
Prosecutions Dip to Eleven-Year Low
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during November 2011 the government reported 968 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 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 2011 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was down (-10.5 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 8.4 percent from levels reported in 2006.
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.
Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions
Cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in November 2011 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 55.6 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC - FOIA challenge" (20.8%), "
Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (20.6%).
See Figure 2.
Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In November 2011, 251 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 November 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 63.7 percent of all magistrate filings in November.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (30.7%).
Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In November 2011, 717 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during November there
were an additional 266 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 November.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters
filed in U.S. District Court during November 2011referred by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
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 "Importation of controlled substances" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 952.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions—up 350 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 846
that involves " Explosives - Additional powers of the Secretary
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—2100 percent—was registered for
prosecutions under " Hobbs Act
" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 69 percent—was
(Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 60 percent—was
for filings where the lead charge was " Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.
" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In November 2011 the Justice Department said the government brought 384.2 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.
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)
The District of North Dakota—with 4267 prosecutions as compared with 384.2 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during November 2011.
The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd.
The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 4 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 for most frequent use five years ago.
District of Delaware is now ranking 3rd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Southern District of New York (Manhattan), now ranked
, and Western District of Virginia (Roanoke)
In the same order, these districts ranked 11th and 25th one year ago and 9th and 10th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 193.3 percent—was
North Dakota .
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 366.7 percent—was
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 36.1 percent—was
New Mexico .
But over the past five years,
Western District of Virginia (Roanoke)
showed the largest drop— 52.3 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 November 2011 are shown in Table 4.
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 5 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 48 defendants in cases.
Judge Junell appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 2) and five years ago (rank 1).
Judge Micaela Alvarez in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 2nd with 29 defendants in cases.
Judge Ralph R. Erickson in the District of North Dakota ranked 3rd with 23 defendants in cases.
Report Date: February 20, 2012