Many Indiana residents find themselves facing drug-related criminal charges every year. Often, these come about as the result of a traffic stop or other chance encounter with the police, but many come about after a long investigation by the authorities. Sometimes, it’s a combination of both approaches.
A recent case helps illustrate how the authorities can narrow down an investigation in order to focus their efforts on an alleged drug trafficking ring.
According to a recent news report, Indianapolis police have arrested several people in what they say is a drug trafficking operation. In several searches over the course of a few days, they found what they said was methamphetamine, cocaine and a large amount of illegal cannabis products.
Police said they executed a search warrant on Central Avenue and arrested two men who now face drug charges. Two days later, police said they were investigating reports of violence when they discovered and detained a man who was under an arrest warrant in a drug-related case. Police said they found several illegal drugs on his person.
In what was believed to be a related case, police later executed a search warrant on a residence in the area, where they said they found a man who was a felon illegally in possession of a firearm. They later obtained a search warrant for another location associated with the man. There, police said, they found a large amount of cannabis derivatives, including nearly 3,000 THC vape pens and 10 pounds of marijuana.
The U.S. Constitution gives us protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Among other things, this means that police must generally obtain a warrant supported by probable cause before they can search someone’s home.
To get a search warrant, police must show a judge that they have probable cause to believe they will find evidence of a crime at the location. In this context, “probable cause” means they have reason to believe it is more likely than not that they will find evidence of a crime. To convince the judge, police submit a statement detailing the evidence that makes them believe they have probable cause.
This supporting evidence may include police officers’ own observations, statements from informants, tips from the public and more. The search warrant must be specific about the evidence police suspect they will find and where they expect to find it.
As in the case above, police can sometimes combine their approaches, using chance encounters with a suspect on the street as well as a careful investigation supported by search warrants.
One problem for defendants in these cases is that a person with very little involvement in a large drug trafficking operation may be easily caught up in a large-scale drug bust if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. To build a strong defense, they need to learn about all their options with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.