About the Law

Federal prosecutors frequently choose to charge individual defendants with a variety of crimes under a number of different statutes. An organized crime figure who committed a murder while negotiating a drug deal, for example, might be indicted for murder, drug dealing, and numerous organized crime and conspiracy offenses. During the data collection process, the Justice Department asks the prosecutors to select the "lead charge" on all referrals that they handle. Obviously, these judgments often are somewhat subjective when multiple serious charges are involved. Sometimes, they are influenced by the political needs of the moment: an administration, for example, that wants to show the public it is concentrating on organized crime or threats to the nation's internal security.

Here then, as viewed through the lens of federal prosecutors across the country, are the most frequently cited "lead charges" involved in referrals coming from the DEA. The complete text of these frequently cited lead charges can be viewed by selecting the particular statute of interest in the following table.

Click on statute to view text

U.S. Code Description
 08 USC 01326 Reentry of deported alien
 18 USC 00004 Misprision of Felony
 18 USC 00371 Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US
 18 USC 00846 Explosives - Additional powers of the Secretary
 18 USC 00922 Firearms; Unlawful acts
 18 USC 00924 Firearms; Penalties
 18 USC 01347 Health Care Fraud
 18 USC 01951 Hobbs Act
 18 USC 01956 Laundering of monetary instruments
 18 USC 01960 Prohibition of illegal money transmitting business
 18 USC 02118 Robberies/burglaries w/controlled substances
 21 USC 00841 Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A
 21 USC 00843 Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C
 21 USC 00844 Penalty for simple possession
 21 USC 00846 Attempt and conspiracy
 21 USC 00856 Establishment for manufacturing operations
 21 USC 00860 Distribution or manufacturing in or near schools a
 21 USC 00952 Importation of controlled substances
 21 USC 00959 Possession, manufacture, or distribution for purpo
 21 USC 00963 Attempt and conspiracy
 31 USC 05332 Bulk Cash Smuggling into or out of the United States
 46 USC 70503 Possession control substance on vessel subject to jurisdiction of US
 46 USC 70506 Penalties

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