Criminal Justice News

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Attorney General Sessions and Acting DEA Administrator Patterson Announce New Tools to Address Opioid Crisis

Continuing to follow President Trump’s strong leadership on combatting the deadly opioid crisis, Attorney General Sessions today announced new resources and stepped up efforts to address the drug and opioid crisis.

Joined by Acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson, Attorney General Sessions announced the following efforts during a press conference at the Department of Justice: over $12 million in grant funding to assist law enforcement in combating illegal manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, and prescription opioids; the establishment of a new DEA Field Division in Louisville, Kentucky, which will include Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, a move meant to better align DEA enforcement efforts within the Appalachian mountain region; and a directive to all U.S. Attorneys to designate an Opioid Coordinator to work closely with prosecutors, and with other federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement to coordinate and optimize federal opioid prosecutions in every district.

“Today we are facing the worst drug crisis in American history, with one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  “That’s why, under President Trump’s strong leadership, the Department of Justice has been taking action to make our drug law enforcement efforts more effective. Today we announce three new initiatives to do just that.  First, we will invest $12 million in funding for our state and local law enforcement partners to take heroin and methamphetamine off of our streets. Second, we will restructure DEA's Field Divisions for the first time in nearly 20 years. Third, we will require all of our federal prosecutors' offices to designate an Opioid Coordinator who will customize our anti-opioid strategy in every district in America. These steps will make our law enforcement efforts smarter and more effective—and ultimately they will save American lives."

“DEA continually looks for ways to improve operations and interagency cooperation and more efficiently leverage resources,” said Acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “By creating a new division in the region, this restructuring places DEA in lockstep with our partners in the area to do just that. This change will produce more effective investigations on heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid trafficking, all of which have a significant impact on the region.”

COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Grants and Anti-Meth Program

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office is awarding a total of $7.19 million in FY 2017 funding through the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTF).  AHTF provides two years of funding directly to law enforcement agencies in states with high per capita levels of primary treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids. This funding will support the location or investigation of illicit activities related to the distribution of heroin or the unlawful distribution of prescription opioids.

The COPS Office will also award a total of $5.03 million in FY 2017 funding through the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP).  The state agencies receiving funding today have demonstrated numerous seizures of precursor chemicals, finished methamphetamine, laboratories, and laboratory dump seizures. State agencies will be awarded two years of funding through CAMP to support the investigation of illicit activities related to the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.

Establishment of DEA Louisville Field Division

The DEA will establish the Louisville Field Division – its 22nd division office in the United States – on Jan. 1, 2018.  It will include Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  This action converts the existing Louisville District Office into a field division in an effort to enhance DEA enforcement efforts within the Appalachian mountain region and unify drug trafficking investigations under a single Special Agent in Charge.  DEA anticipates that this change will produce more effective investigations on heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioid trafficking, all of which have a significant impact on the region.  The division will also better align DEA with the U.S. Attorney’s Office districts in those areas, similar to current ATF and FBI offices, and also to the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program.

The Louisville Division will be led by Special Agent in Charge D. Christopher Evans, who comes from the Detroit Field Division where he served as Associate Special Agent in Charge.

Designation of Opioid Coordinators

Every U.S. Attorney will designate an Opioid Coordinator by the close of business on Dec. 15, 2017. Each USAO Opioid Coordinator will be responsible for facilitating intake of cases involving prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl;  convening a task force of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to identify opioid cases for federal prosecution, facilitate interdiction efforts, and tailor their district’s response to the needs of the community it serves; providing legal advice and training to AUSAs regarding the prosecution of opioid offenses; maintaining statistics on the opioid prosecutions in  the district; and developing and continually evaluating the effectiveness of the office’s strategy to combat the opioid epidemic.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Recognizes Antitrust Division Employees and Others at Annual AAG Awards Ceremony



Welcome to our annual AAG Awards that recognize the accomplishments of the Antitrust Division.  I want to start by thanking our outstanding quartet for a beautiful rendition of the national anthem.  Whoever said antitrust lawyers were talentless academics obviously hadn’t heard this group, which we’re calling the coordinated effects quartet.  And thank you all for coming. 

We’re here to celebrate a remarkable series of victories and hard work on behalf of American consumers.  We’re going to honor you, who have dedicated your professional careers and talents to public service.  With varied backgrounds, serving in all kinds of roles, you are the heartbeat of the Division. 

We have award winners who, as paralegals just months out of college, undertook critical work on multi-billion dollar merger challenges.  And on the other end of the spectrum we have winners who have devoted literally a half-century of service to the Division.  We’re here to honor attorneys, support staff, paralegals, economists, and FBI agents, from every part of the country and with every kind of background, who have in common an uncommon devotion to public service and the enforcement of free markets.  We’re here, quite simply, because of the good work you do. 

We’ll also be honoring the memories and dedications of three of our dear friends with the creation of two new awards for cartel enforcement and ethics and integrity. 

First let me say what an honor it is to serve you as the Division’s Assistant Attorney General.   I’ve worked in various jobs in all three branches of the federal government, and I truly believe that working at the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice is one of the greatest privileges anyone can have.  And this is the only Department in all of the federal government with a moral ideal in its very name.  Your work in pursuit of justice for the American consumer vindicates that ideal. 

Through our law enforcement efforts we preserve the economic organization of our nation.  The American economy is premised on liberty; the liberty to engage in business fairly.  The liberty to innovate.  The liberty to risk and utilize your talents and earn an honest remuneration for that risk.  Your work is critical to the continued functioning of that free market system.  American consumers expect competition in the economy to work to their benefit, and together we help to maintain and vindicate those expectations.  For many of us, antitrust is not just a fun profession, but an important mission. 

So before turning to the awards we’re giving this year and the particular cases we’re celebrating, let me say thank you to the entire staff of the Antitrust Division for your stewardship of one of our country’s most important institutions.  Thank you for your contributions both to our system of justice and to our system of commerce.  Whether or not you’re receiving an award this year, know that your work is deeply appreciated. 

Let me also say thank you at the outset to the family and friends of those receiving awards, some of whom I know are here today.   Every one of our award recipients, I am sure, has a story about a late night, an out of town trip, or an unexpected project, where their family went above and beyond to support their hard work on behalf of American consumers.  Maybe you have a series of those, as your partner moved from one busy matter to the next.  For those stories, and for all of the love and support in between, thank you.  Let’s give our first round of applause this afternoon to all of the family and friends who made today possible. 

I know that the last year has been an incredibly busy one for the Division, with numerous major trials and transactions that really stretched our resources to the limit.  And that all came amidst a leadership transition, with the need to incorporate and educate a new Front Office team.  This year’s awards deservingly recognize how many Division personnel truly went above and beyond the call of duty to meet those challenges.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Virginia Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Attempting to Entice Eight-Year-Old Minor to Have Sex Overseas



A Springfield, Virginia man was sentenced today to 168 months in prison for attempting to entice an eight-year-old minor to engage in sex with him during a trip to the Philippines in 2013, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Carl Sara, 63, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga.  Sara pleaded guilty on Sept. 6 to attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.  Sara was also sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release after his serving his term of imprisonment.  According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Sara participated in live-streaming webcam sessions depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, along with contemporaneous instant message chatting with persons in the Philippines and elsewhere. During some of these chats, which occurred in or about May 2013 until July 2013, Sara discussed, with a woman in the Philippines, plans for Sara to have sex with the woman’s eight-year old daughter during an upcoming trip to the Philippines. During these chats with the mother, Sara attempted to entice the minor to engage in sexual activity with him on that upcoming trip.  Sara sent the mother $200 dollars via Western Union upon receiving the mother’s agreement that he could had sex with her daughter, and offered to pay her an additional $300 after he had sex with the eight-year-old.

Additionally, at the sentencing hearing the Court found that Sara then traveled to the Philippines in order to have sex with the eight-year-old and other minor children. During this trip to the Philippines he paid for sex with another minor, a 16-year-old girl. In addition, the Court found that Sara had sent wire transfers overseas totaling more than $33,000, the majority of which was used to pay for live webcam shows depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct or child pornography. Finally, the Court at the sentencing hearing found that Sara routinely sought out mothers in the Philippines with young children in order to persuade them allow him to have sex with them.

The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Burke IV and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Smith III.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

Leader of Tuscaloosa Area Drug Ring Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison



TUSCALOOSA – A federal judge today sentenced the leader of a drug ring trafficking methamphetamine and cocaine in Tuscaloosa County to 25 years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives Special Agent in Charge Steven L. Gerido and West Alabama Narcotics Task Force Captain Phil Simpson.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced SANTONY MARKEI NOLAND, 32, also known as “Santony Markies Noland,” “San T” and “Black,” on one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine between December 2016 and March 2017, and on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Noland pleaded guilty to the charges in July.

Noland, of Tuscaloosa, is one of 10 defendants, all of whom have pleaded guilty to charges related to the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Three of the defendants remain to be sentenced.

"Multiple law enforcement agencies came together in this investigation and successfully took down an established cocaine- and methamphetamine-trafficking organization in the Tuscaloosa area," Town said. "This is an outstanding example of how robust partnerships between every level of law enforcement enables the dismantling of drug smuggling organizations and reduces the availability of illegal narcotics in our communities.”

“ATF, along with its partners, work diligently to protect the public from senseless acts of violence,” Gerido said. “ATF will remain vigilant as we engage with the community and foster a safe environment. Support from the public is crucial and the reporting of illegal activity is encouraged through ATF’s report it phone app.”

“We were glad to be able to partner with the ATF to get this violent drug offender off the streets,” Simpson said.

Noland has multiple felony convictions in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court and a prior federal felony conviction from the Northern District of Alabama for being a felon in possession of a firearm on a previous occasion.

The ATF, WANTF and the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case. The task force is composed of officers from the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the Tuscaloosa, Northport and University of Alabama police departments, and the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Felton is prosecuting the case.