The owners of two California indoor gardening stores and 28 other people are facing federal drug trafficking charges for allegedly operating a large marijuana distribution ring. A grand jury recently indicted the group of 30 for violating federal drug trafficking laws.
The storeowners, a married couple, allegedly provided equipment and startup funds from their store in exchange for a cut of the profits for the operation. The storeowners' two adult sons were among those indicted. The federal investigation has been ongoing for some time and the criminal proceedings are now underway. Twenty-six of the 30 indicted individuals have appeared in court and plead not guilty. Five have been denied bail, and six have not yet been apprehended.
A federal grand jury indictment is the initial stage of federal criminal proceedings. A federal indictment does not establish guilt. An indictment simply means that a grand jury found enough evidence against the individuals for the federal government to charge the individuals with a crime.
Federal trials are very complex proceedings where the federal government presents evidence to determine if the defendants have violated federal law beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof required for federal prosecutors to secure a conviction is rather significant. Evidence must be carefully scrutinized and weighed to determine whether a person is innocent or guilty.
In large drug trafficking busts such as this, issues concerning multiple co-defendants need to be addressed. When so many people are charged with being involved in a crime, any number of them may have accidentally been caught up in federal agent's proceedings, when they may have no actual involvement in the suspected illegal activity. Individuals who have been indicted may find it worthwhile to seek the advice of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to protect their individual rights through all stages of a federal proceeding.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, "30 indicted in alleged pot trafficking scheme," May 30, 2012