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Drug Crimes

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Drug crimes are serious criminal offenses in Mississippi and carry punishments according to the type (“schedule”) of the alleged drug, the quantity of the drug, the type of drug activity involved, the defendant’s criminal history, and other relevant factors. Being accused of a drug crime can affect your freedom, your right to possess firearms, and your ability to get credit, employment, government contracts, security clearances, and other benefits. Drug cases involving the trafficking of controlled substances can carry extremely serious penalties under Mississippi and federal law – including sentences of up to life in prison. Depending on the facts surrounding the allegations, legal and factual defenses may be available. Pascagoula criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley aggressively represents clients accused of all state and federal drug crimes and is ready to defend your legal rights and your reputation.

 

The following sections discuss common examples of drug cases we handle including:

 

  • Interstate 10 Drug Cases

  • Prescription Drug Cases

  • Drug Possession, International Drug Trafficking, and Conspiracy Cases

Interstate 10 Drug Cases

Interstate Images

Pascagoula - Gulfport criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley has over two decades of experience defending both minor and multi-kilogram drug cases along the I-10 corridor from Texas to Florida. Many drug arrests in South Mississippi occur during “interdiction” traffic stops along the I-10 corridor, which is a designated High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). These arrests often involve DEA Task Force, Federal Motor Carrier, and Border Patrol enforcement efforts aimed at intercepting three general categories of drug trafficking:

 

  • Transporting illegal street drugs (including fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, meth, THC, and various “analogues”) that originated in Mexico and entered the U.S. through “the Valley” in Texas;

 

  • Transporting genuine and counterfeit prescription “cocktail” drugs (including fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, alprazolam, and carisoprodol) that originated in Mexico or were diverted from “pill mills” within the U.S.; and

 

  • Transporting cash proceeds from drug trafficking activity.

 

Vehicle-based drug arrests may give rise to a number of defenses. For example, both Mississippi and federal law provide that a person’s mere presence during a crime, without more, is not enough to link them to the crime. If you’ve been arrested for drugs during a highway traffic stop, the facts of your situation will be critical in assessing whether the prosecution can link you to criminal drug activity. Important facts in your case may include the following:

 

  • Who is the registered owner of the vehicle?

  • Was the vehicle a rental car, and if so, who rented it?

  • Were you a driver or a passenger?

  • Has the vehicle been logged by license plate readers (ALPRs) in other states?

  • Were the drugs found within your reach?

  • Was the vehicle modified to carry drugs (secret compartment, modified gas tank, recent body work, hollow car battery, fake spare tire, etc.?)

  • What statements – if any – did you or others make to police?

  • Were you carrying a “burner phone?”

  • Did the police seize your cell phone(s)?

  • Are you employed or have a regular occupation?

  • Were you carrying cash, and if so, how much?

  • Have you previously been convicted of a drug trafficking offense?

  • Are you a U.S. Citizen?

 

Police conducting searches and arrests along the I-10 corridor sometimes violate suspects’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. This can lead to suppression of evidence and sometimes, dismissal. We carefully evaluate every drug case for evidence of Fourth Amendment violations including:

 

  • improper traffic stops

  • improper reliance on information from informants

  • improper investigative delays

  • improper dog sniff procedures

  • improper searches

  • improper operation of density meters and x-ray machines

  • improper police questioning (which also implicates Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights

 

When we can establish evidence of a constitutional violation, we’ll use it to our client’s advantage and aggressively work to get drug evidence thrown out.

 

Pascagoula criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley is licensed to practice law in both Mississippi and Texas and has extensive experience defending clients arrested for drug trafficking along the I-10 corridor.  If you’ve been arrested in Mississippi for allegedly transporting drugs, Pascagoula criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley is ready to fight to defend your legal rights and your reputation.

Prescription Drug Cases

Prescription Drug Cases

Pascagoula - Gulfport, Mississippi criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley has over two decades of experience fighting criminal allegations involving prescription medications. If you’re under investigation or accused of illegally diverting, dispensing, obtaining, or possessing prescription medications in Mississippi, you need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer at your side. Gulfport criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley is here and ready to fight to defend your legal rights and your reputation.

 

Diversion of Controlled Substances

 

Federal and state authorities in Mississippi target healthcare providers and pharmacists who prescribe and dispense high volumes of controlled substances. For years, the DEA and state law enforcement agencies have unjustly labeled the pain management profession as “drug dealers in white coats.” Not only does this philosophy run contrary to current FDA guidance for the prescribing of opioid analgesics, but over-enforcement against pain management healthcare providers has almost single-handedly caused the ongoing deadly fentanyl crisis. Nevertheless, the DEA and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) continue to single out healthcare providers and pharmacists for criminal investigation based on “red flags” such as:

 

  • Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) data showing high volumes of opioid pain medications prescribed and dispensed alone or in combination with “cocktail drugs” such as alprazolam (Xanax) and carisoprodol (Soma);

 

  • Informants report pain management prescribers or pharmacies for allegedly operating “pill mills”; or

 

  • Police recover diverted drugs contained in prescription bottles with labels identifying certain prescribers or pharmacies, and automatically assume that the prescribers or pharmacies were complicit in diverting the drugs.

 

The legal standard for criminal liability in diversion cases involving medical professionals is that controlled substances were prescribed and/or dispensed “without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the scope of professional practice.” For years, defense lawyers have complained that this standard unfairly allows law enforcement to second-guess medical professionals based on objective standards of practice that are incompatible with the concept of criminal intent. In response to lawyers’ arguments, in 2022 the U.S. Supreme Court finally established a subjective defense for healthcare professionals accused in diversion cases. See Ruan v. United States, 142 S. Ct. 457 (2022). Understanding this complex defense, and the numerous regulations applicable to healthcare professionals who prescribe and dispense controlled substances, is critical when defending against allegations of diversion. Whether you’re a healthcare professional, a patient, or anyone else – if you’re under investigation or accused of illegally diverting controlled substances, Gulfport criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley is ready to fight to defend your legal rights and your reputation.

 

Unlawfully Obtaining or Possessing Prescription Drugs

 

Pascagoula criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley has over twenty years of experience fighting allegations of unlawfully obtaining or possessing prescription drugs. Mississippi and federal law both prohibit unlawful possession of controlled substances requiring a valid prescription, and Mississippi law prohibits acquiring or obtaining possession of controlled prescription drugs by larceny, embezzlement, or fraud. Most criminal cases involving prescription drugs involve opioid pain medications and related “cocktail” drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) and carisoprodol (Soma).

 

Tragically, good people suffering from acute or chronic pain can become dependent on opioid pain medications. Legal problems can arise when doctors stop prescribing the medications or taper down quantities – leading the suffering patient to obtain the medications through unlawful methods such as visiting “pill mills,” buying pills off the street, or forging prescriptions. These actions can lead to serious criminal charges that only serve to intensify the suffering patient’s struggles. When criminal drug cases arise from prescription drug dependence, treatment options are often an important component of the criminal defense strategy.

 

Regardless of your circumstances, and regardless of the allegations against you, Pascagoula criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley is ready to fight to defend your legal rights and your reputation.

Drug Possession, Trafficking and Conspiracy

Drug Possession

Drug possession, trafficking, and conspiracy cases in Mississippi are serious criminal charges that may arise from local, state, or federal investigations – or just bad luck encounters with police. Mississippi and federal cases involving drug trafficking can carry some of the most extreme punishments allowed by law, including sentences of up to life in prison. If you’re under investigation or accused of drug possession, trafficking, or conspiracy, you need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer at your side. Pascagoula - Gulfport criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley has over twenty years of experience fighting drug possession, trafficking, and conspiracy cases and is ready to fight to defend your legal rights and your reputation.

 

Many drug cases arise when police catch (or claim to catch) someone with drugs in their possession or under their control. In other cases, police and prosecutors may build drug trafficking and conspiracy cases using “historical” evidence – meaning evidence like cooperating witness testimony, wiretaps, surveillance, and bank records. Historical drug conspiracy cases are most common in federal court and can be relatively complex. Criminal drug conspiracy is an offense under both Mississippi and federal law. In the most general sense, a criminal drug conspiracy takes place when:

 

  • 2 or more persons

  • Come to agreement to possess or distribute drugs; and then

  • 1 or more persons commits an act in furtherance of the agreement.

 

Whatever the prosecution’s approach to charging a drug crime, factual and legal defenses may be available.

 

Most multi-kilogram drug cases involve trafficking across international borders. Prosecutions for international trafficking may be initiated in the U.S., in a foreign country, or both. Pascagoula drug crimes defense attorney Sean Buckley has unique experience representing U.S. citizens facing criminal drug prosecutions across borders.

 

For example, Mr. Buckley served as trial co-counsel and diplomatic liaison for U.S. businessman Larry Davis, who was charged in the Dominican Republic in 2016 with trafficking 980 kilograms of cocaine and heroin. Following months of coordinated diplomatic efforts through the U.S. Department of State and a highly publicized two-month trial in Santo Domingo, a Dominican federal court found Larry Davis “Not Guilty” of all charges. The takeaway from this case is that a massive volume of drugs does not – in itself – mean that a case cannot be successfully defended. Each case is unique, and previous successful results do not predict successful outcomes for future cases

Larrry Davis charged with drug traficking
Sean Buckley with Dominican Media

When investigations and prosecutions occur within U.S. borders, police sometimes violate suspects’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. This can lead to suppression of evidence and sometimes, dismissal. We carefully evaluate every drug case for evidence of Fourth Amendment violations including:

 

  • Deficient search warrants

  • Deficient or false search warrant affidavits

  • Searches beyond the scope of the warrant

  • Improper searches without a warrant (of cars, homes, offices, computers, cell phones, etc.)

  • Improper warrantless tracking of vehicles or persons

  • Improper phone wiretaps

  • Improper questioning by police (which also implicates the Fifth Amendment right to counsel)

 

When we can establish evidence of a constitutional violation, we use it to our client’s advantage and aggressively work to get the drug evidence thrown out.

 

Regardless of the circumstances, and regardless of the allegations against you, Pascagoula criminal defense attorney Sean Buckley is ready to fight to defend your legal rights and your reputation.

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