The Washington Times reports that a yearlong police operation has ended in 70 arrests, the confiscation of more than 160 guns and more than $7 million in drugs, officials announced to the news media recently.
Our Washington D.C. criminal defense lawyers are sometimes skeptical of long-term police stings where officers make many arrests. In many cases, that's because these operations often rely on many witnesses to ensure officers have sufficient evidence.
Washington D.C. gun charges can result in long prison terms, especially when coupled with drug charges. When officers conduct these operations, there are inevitably people who aren't guilty who get caught up with others who may be more culpable.
Prosecutors nearly always require some of these defendants to become witnesses for the state. This opens up obvious issues related to the credibility of these witnesses. Once charged with a serious crime and looking at possible prison time, they may suddenly warm up to investigators and become friendly.
In many cases, these people are required to provide a statement of their involvement and that of co-defendants. Once they testify, they are expected to say nearly the same exact thing as that statement, regardless of whether it's 100 percent accurate. The more details they can prove, the better the deal they'll get.
In this case, police said that "Operation Manic Enterprises" helped to solve more than a dozen open crimes and halt a drug ring that sought to push meth onto Washington, D.C., streets.
Police say one man in particular allegedly offered weapons to undercover officers -- nearly 10 a month for six months -- before he was arrested. Police said they learned he planned to rob them during the next transaction, so they arrested him.
Police set up a fake music recording studio and used the space to entice alleged gun and drug dealers to sell their wares. More than 80 pounds of methamphetamines, 21 pounds of cocaine, 23.5 pounds of heroin, ecstasy and marijuana and 1.25 gallons of PCP were seized as part of the yearlong sting.
The newspaper reports that several people have already entered guilty pleas from arrests made earlier this year. One man, who was arrested in July, took in more than $21,000 for guns and drugs he sold to officers. He has pleaded guilty to a charges related to gun possession and drug distribution. Nine members of a Mexican drug cartel were arrested late last year and another man faces charges that he offered up hand grenades and a rocket launcher.
While police like to look good in the news media by flaunting arrest numbers, the real test is how many of these arrests turn into meaningful convictions. In many cases, officers rush to judgment as they get into the throws of their operation.
In others, police rely on innuendo and rumor in making arrests of some peripheral members of a criminal operation. When the case comes down to a trial, the real facts come out and show that officers simply ruined people's reputations rather than made meaningful arrests. Thankfully, every criminal defendant has the right to a fair trial and that's where the true facts come out.