Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

Published on:

The Massachusetts controlled substance laws punishes with enhanced penalties those persons who violated the drug laws for the sale or distribution of drugs within 100 feet of a “public park or playground”. This week, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that a defendant cannot be criminally liable if he distributes drugs within a park or playground that is NOT “public”, even if it is accessible to members of the public.

In the case of Commonwealth v. Gopaul, the defendant was convicted for selling marijuana to an undercover police officer within 100 feet of an outdoor playground at the Windsor Meadows Apartment Complex, a private apartment complex in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The playground was not fenced in and, arguably, anyone could enter the playground.

The defendant challenged his conviction after trial, arguing that the Drug Distribution Near School Zone, Park or Playground Statute in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C, section 32J, applies only to “public” playgrounds, not those that are on private property. Continue reading →

Published on:

In the case of Commonwealth v. Overmyer, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court considered whether the smell of ‘unburnt marijuana’ provides police officers with probable cause to believe there is more than (the legal) one ounce to justify a search of the car without a search warrant. The court ruled that, no, the mere smell of unburnt marijuana does NOT justify a search.

In this case, police officers responded to a motor vehicle accident. On scene, the officers smelled “a very strong odor of unburnt marijuana near” the defendant’s car. In response to questioning by the police officers, the defendant admitted that marijuana was present in the car and gave the keys to the glove compartment to the police. Inside, there was a “fat bag” of marijuana. Because the odor of unburnt marijuana persisted, a further search was conducted and more marijuana in a backpack in the backseat.

As a result, this defendant was charged with possession with intent to distribute a class D substance and school zone violation.

In challenging the validity of the search of the car prior to trial, the motion judge ruled that once the marijuana was recovered from the glove compartment, the additional persistent smell of unburnt marijuana did not justify a further search of the back seat area and of the defendant’s backpack without a warrant.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court agreed, holding that since the law concerning marijuana was reclassified (and where it is no longer a crime to possess an ounce or less of marijuana) ‘the odor of unburnt marijuana alone cannot reasonably provide suspicion of criminal activity.’

Interestingly, the court further expanded on officers’ characterizations of the “strong” or “very strong’ smell of unburnt marijuana, describing these characterizations as inherently subjective. The court additional called into question whether a police officer can somehow identity, simply by “odor”, the presence and identity of a particular controlled substance and its weight. Ultimately, the SJC held stated that “…we are not confident…that a human nose can discern reliably the presence of a criminal amount of marijuana, as distinct from an amount subject only to a civil fine.”

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 for consultation for all Massachusetts Drug Crimes and can be reached at 617-325-9500 or his Contact Page.

Published on:

A 20 year old man from Boston was arrested this past Thursday on Massachusetts Drug Charges in Weymouth. He was charged with Drug Distribution, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws, and Resisting Arrest.

According to the Weymouth Police Department, the defendant was alleged to have engaged in a drug transaction with a Weymouth man at a home on Pierce Road. That man was arrested on similar drug charges. Police had received tips about alleged drug dealing at that address.

One of the most important steps in defending any drug case is evaluating the specific facts and circumstances involving the person’s arrest. Anyone who has been the subject of a search to their person or property by police can challenge that search under the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

If a challenge to the search of the person and the seizure of contraband is successful, then the court can suppress or exclude whatever item was seized as a result of the constitutional violation. For example, if the police stopped someone on the street and search them without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, then the drugs, guns or whatever else illegal was recovered could be thrown out of the case.

Cases involving searches and seizures depend on very specific fact patterns and legal issues. It is important that you have a qualified and experienced attorney evaluate your case and examine any constitutional issues very closely.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 for all Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges, including Drug Distribution and Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs.

To schedule a Free Consultation, Click Here to Contact a Massachusetts Drug Crimes Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

Published on:

A man entering attempting to enter the country through Boston’s Logan Airport was arrested for Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges after 4 kilo’s of cocaine were found in his wheelchair.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the passenger had a cast on his leg and was in a wheelchair, but airport security suspected he did not need the wheelchair for any medical reason. Security x-rayed the wheelchair and also drilled a hole in one of the chair’s tire, revealing approximately 4 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the tires and frame of the wheelchair.

Prosecutors also reported that the man was taken to Whidden Memorial Hospital and his leg with the cast was x-rayed. Doctors then told police that the man allegedly did not need a cast.

Drug Trafficking of 200 grams in Massachusetts or more of Cocaine is punishable with commitment to state prison for a term of not less than 15 years and up to 20 years.

The defendant, Emmanuelli Rojas-Moraza, of Puerto Rico, was arraigned last Friday in East Boston District Court and was held on $45,000 bail.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has experience in successfully defending Massachusetts Drug Crimes, and is available 24/7 for consultation for all drug crimes, including Drug Trafficking, Drug Distribution, Drug Possession, and Conspiracy to Violate Drug Laws.

Click Here to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Massachusetts Drug Crimes Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

Published on:

Boston Police Drug Control Unit Officers arrested a man from Quincy and another from West Roxbury last week on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges.

Both men where arrested for Unlawful Possession of a Class A Substance, Heroin.

According to the Boston Police Department, officers were conducting undercover surveillance in the area of CVS in Roslindale, which they allege is a high drug transaction area. The officers reportedly recognized the Quincy man and followed him to West Roxbury, where he allegedly met another man.

That second individual allegedly got into the Quincy man’s car and drove off. After allegedly committing traffic violations, Boston Police officers stopped the car and allegedly observed a package of heroin on the driver’s side floor.

Massachusetts Drug Crime Arrests come in a variety of different contexts, but the motor vehicle stop is one of the most common. Police officers conducting undercover drug surveillance must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has or is being committed before they can pull a car over.

Often times, however, where their observations does not meet the requisite level to justify a stop based on suspicion of a drug transaction, police will follow the car and pull it over for a “traffic violation”. Even though the police officers’ real intention in pulling the car over is to investigate for the presence of drugs, using a traffic stop to justify pulling the car over is lawful.

In any type of drug case, whether the result of a vehicle stop, street encounter, or search warrant, the specific facts justifying the police officer’s Search and Seizure of the person should be heavily scrutinized and, in most cases, challenged on constitutional grounds by way of a motion to suppress.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in successfully defending Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges and is available 24/7 for consultation.

To schedule a Free Consultation, Click Here to Contact a Massachusetts Drug Crimes Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

Published on:

The Massachusetts Department of Health Lab in Jamaica Plain (William A. Hinton Drug Laboratory) was ordered shut down by the governor a few weeks ago when it was discovered that at least one of the chemists at the lab allegedly engaged in malfeasance and violation of protocol with drug samples in criminal cases. The drug lab handled several thousand drug samples seized from criminal drug arrests in multiple counties, including Suffolk County, Middlesex County (until 2009), Bristol County, Worcester County and Norfolk County.

By way of background, when the police seized drugs in criminal cases, the drugs were ultimately sent to the DPH drug lab for testing and confirmation that the substance was, in fact, the certain controlled substance it was thought to be. At the lab, each drug sample was analyzed by one chemist, whose results were then checked by another chemist.

As it turns out, one of the supervising chemists is alleged to have engaged in intentional violation of protocol by tampering with evidence bags; altering the weight of drugs; not calibrating the drug testing machines properly; and even altering drug samples so that they would test as drugs when they were not! This particular chemist, who was employed by the DPH drug lab in Jamaica Plain from 2003 to 2012, is believed to have been involved with as many as 60,000 samples and 182,000 criminal drug cases.

Even more disturbing, the analyst under investigation, considered a ‘supervisor’, had unsupervised access to the drug safe and evidence room, theoretically calling into questioned every single drug case that passed through the Jamaica Plain drug lab, even where she was not directly responsible for the testing of those samples.

Obviously, this discovery creates a very serious problem as defendants who were charge with a Massachusetts Drug Crime were potentially prosecuted with tainted and/or fabricated drug evidence and leading to erroneous convictions and in some cases, deportation from the United States.

Since the governor ordered the lab closed and the matter referred for investigation, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys are scrambing to determine which cases were affected. Many defense attorneys like myself, have been pulling old files out of storage in an effort to identify all defendants whose cases might have been affected in any way.

So who is affected and what should they do?

Any person who was charged with a Massachusetts Drug Crime whose case resulted in a conviction or plea is potentially affected and they should contact an attorney, particularly any individual who was recently convicted and is currently serving a prison/jail sentence as a result of that drug conviction.

Depending on each defendant’s individual circumstances, there are various options that should be considered:

  • Defendants convicted of a drug crime should consider a Motion for New Trial, which would essentially vacate the conviction. Where the defendant is currently serving a sentence as a result of a potentially tainted drug conviction, there could also be the possibility that the person is released from custody and otherwise file a Motion to Stay their sentence.
  • Defendants who pled guilty to a Massachusetts drug crime should consider a Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea.
  • Defendants who have received any disposition short of a dismissal or acquittal, for instance, persons who admitted sufficient facts and their case was Continued Without a Finding (“CWOF”) and placed on probation, should also consider a Motion to Withdraw their plea.

Though attorneys on all sides of the issues are working to identity whose cases may have been affected, the list is long and time consuming. For this reason, if you believe your Massachusetts drug case may have been impacted by this you should contact an attorney for assistance.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defendant Massachusetts Drug Crimes and is available 24/7 for a free consultation if you were affected by the DPH Drug Lab Scandal.

Click Here to contact a Massachusetts Drug Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

Published on:

cocaine.jpgThe Norwood Police Department last week arrested 3 men on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges who they claim to be key suppliers for drugs in the Town of Norwood.

The 3 men, one from Boston, Quincy and Fall River, were all arrested following a drug investigation with several ‘controlled drug purchases’ in Norwood that also led to a drug house in Randolph. All three men were charged with Drug Trafficking in Cocaine and Heroin and Conspiracy to Violate the Massachusetts Drug Laws.

Drug Trafficking in Massachusetts is defined as the knowing or intentional manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to distribute certain net weights of controlled substances. The penalties for a conviction for drug trafficking varies depending on the weight and the alleged substance.

For instance, a conviction for Trafficking in Cocaine of 14 to 28 grams carries a sentence of not less than 3 and up to 15 years in state prison; while Trafficking in Heroin of 14 to 28 grams carries a sentence of not less than 5 and up to 20 years in state prison.

There are many potential issues that must be explored and researched an a defense involving a drug crime. Some issues, such as a challenging the probable cause in the issuance of a search warrant or challenging an unlawful search and seizure could be dispositive in the defendants case by getting the drugs suppressed or thrown out. Other times, particularly where controlled buys were employed by the police and the identity of the alleged ‘dealer’ may be in question, the defense may turn on challenging the defendant’s access to or possession of the drugs, even if he resided in the home and/or if the drugs were located in a common area.

On their face, many drug cases may appear to be total losers, with the defendant having no chance of beating the charges. A skillful attorney, with knowledge of the law and possible legal arguments, could often be the difference between a defendant serving 3-15 years and either getting his case dismissed or winning at trial.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defending persons charged with Massachusetts Drug Crimes, including Drug Trafficking; Drug Distribution; Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs; Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws; and Drug School Zone / Park Violations, and is available 24/7 for consultation.

To schedule a Free Consultation, Click Here to Contact a Boston Drug Crimes Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

Published on:

Two Boston city employees were arraigned this morning on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges following their arrest last friday. Each were charged with Drug Distribution; Unlawful Drug Possession; School Zone Violation; and Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, one of the city workers was employed as a Boston parking enforcement officer and the other, while the other was employed as a Boston crossing guard.

Boston Police were reportedly conducting surveillance when they allegedly observed the parking enforcement officer, while in uniform, enter a vehicle and then get out with his fist clenched. Police allegedly recovered two percocet pills when he was later stopped and searched.

In cases such as these, it is critical that the defense scrutinizes the facts that the police purportedly relied upon in justifying their stopping and then searching anyone alleged to be involved in a drug transaction. A person charged with a Massachusetts Drug Crime will certainly want to consider challenging whether the police had reasonable suspicion or even probable cause to initiate a search. A successful constitutional challenge on these grounds could lead to the drugs and other evidence being ‘suppressed’ or thrown out, without which there might not be any evidence for the prosecution to go forward.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defending Massachusetts Drug Crimes, including Unlawful Drug Posession and Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs, and is available 24/7 for consultation.

To schedule a Free Consultation, Click Here to Contact a Massachusetts Drug Crimes Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

Published on:

A Boston man and woman from Dedham were arrested by Braintree Police Officers this yesterday on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges in what police are calling a “month-long investigation.”

Aris W. Veras, 35, of Boston, and Luz M. Cepeda, 29, of Dedham, have both been charged with Drug Trafficking, Distribution of Heroin and Cocaine, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs.

According to the Braintree Police, search warrants were executed for two cars and a home in Dedham when an undercover police officer allegedly purchased drugs from Veras and Cepeda. Following the alleged transaction to the undercover police officer, both were arrested on drug charges.

The search warrant on the home in Dedham, alleged to be Cepedas, reportedly yielded additional drugs, including cocaine and heroin; drug packaging materials, and cash.

Although at first glance these circumstances may seem unbeatable, there are truly many intricacies and legal issues that surround a case like this. Any seasoned criminal defense attorney defending a case of this nature would certainly look to the specific details of the alleged drug sale, including who, specifically was involved and how the drug sale was allegedly transacted.

Additionally, that a search warrant was executed on Cepeda’s home may not necessarily be fatal to Vera’s defense, particularly if police cannot establish a strong link between him and the home – such as no evidence that he was ever seen near the home, let alone believed to have engaged in the selling of drugs at or near the residence. The search warrant should also be carefully scrutinized to ensure that it was properly issued based on the requisite probable cause. If not, the search warrant could be thrown out and any evidence recovered from the search could be excluded.

The penalties for Drug Trafficking in Massachusetts vary depending on the alleged drug in question and how much ‘weight’ was allegedly distributed. For instance, for cocaine, trafficking cocaine between 14 and 28 grams could result in a prison sentence of 3 to 15 years; while over 200 grams could result in a sentence of 15-20 years.

The penalties for Drug Trafficking Heroin in Massachusetts, however, are more severe. 14-28 grams could result in a sentence of 5-20 years; while trafficking over 200 grams of heroin could also result in a state prison sentence of 15-20 years.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 for consultation and has extensive experience in defending persons accused of Massachusetts Drug Crimes, including Drug Trafficking, Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs; and Drug School Zone Violations.

To schedule a Free Consultation, Click Here to Contact a Boston Drug Crimes Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

Published on:

Lowell Police yesterday arrested four people on Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges in connection with the seizure of 75 pounds of marijuana and 2 guns.

Phaly Chhoeun, 28; Samnang Sath, 34; Sanith Siv, 35; and Mao Keo, 33, all of Lowell, are each facing charges of Drug Trafficking; Drug School Zone Violation; and Conspiracy to Violate the Massachusetts Drug Laws.

Mao Keo is also charged with Massachusetts Gun Charges and being an Armed Career Criminal.

The drug investigation by the Lowell Police Department that led to these arrests came after police executed a search warrant at an apartment in Lowell.

In many drug cases where search warrants are involved, police will often have to rely on a period of undercover surveillance of the target location and the suspected individuals believed to be involved. Sometimes police will also employ undercover police officers, but most often they will rely on confidential informants who will conduct ‘controlled drug buys’ with the individuals.

In drug investigation where police believe that drugs are being sold from a particular location but are unsure of the identity of the individuals involved, the use of confidential informants becomes even more important. Sometimes, however, police will be reluctant to reveal the identity of the confidential informants, even at trial, and this could sometimes prove advantageous to the defense.

In every case involving search warrants in drug cases, the application for the search warrant should be scrutinized extremely carefully for any deficiencies. In some cases, the probable cause necessary for the issuance of the search warrant may be lacking, and the person may have meritorious challenge in getting the drugs excluded (by filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence).

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 for consultation on all Massachusetts Drug Crimes Charges, including Drug Trafficking.

To schedule a Free Consultation, Click Here to Contact a Massachusetts Drug Crimes Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.