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New Jersey man sentenced to 27 years for alleged drug conspiracy

A New Jersey man was accused and recently convicted of being involved in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Based upon an alleged confidential source and the listening in on cell phone messages by federal law enforcement authorities, this same individual is now looking at more than 27 years of imprisonment.

Federal prosecuting attorneys had asserted that this man of being the head of a New Jersey street gang. As part of his sentence, he is to be barred from associating with claimed street crime or organized crime associates. He was just one of 12 suspects that were arrested due to efforts by federal, state and local law enforcement officials.

It's always difficult to know from limited newspaper reports precisely what has happened when dealing with individuals charged with drug crimes. However, telling us that a confidential source named this individual as being a part of a drug ring or letting us know that he was arrested based upon listening into cell phone records does raise questions.

We need to take care in using the testimony of confidential informants. These individuals have often been associated with criminal wrongdoing themselves and may be trying to make a deal with law enforcement officials. And whatever cell phone information may reveal, everyone has a right to expect a certain amount of privacy. Law enforcement authorities legally are required to provide probable cause before being provided with a search warrant that will allow them to listen into cell phone messages.

Criminal defense attorneys can challenge law enforcement actions in court when it comes to the circumstances of bringing charges. As the above circumstances indicate, conviction of federal drug charges can lead to decade long sentences to prison. We need for the legal process to be pursued in the correct and legal manner or we have the danger of officials abusing their authority.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "New Jersey gang leader sentenced for drug conspiracy," July 23, 2013

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