Multiple People Facing Federal Charges in Dallas

KDFW-TV reported on July 27, 2023, that in a major operation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Dallas Police Department, and Dallas County Sheriff’s Office raided multiple locations in Oak Cliff, dismantling a large-scale drug trafficking ring believed to be run by a local gang. Roughly two dozen suspects now face federal charges related to drugs and weapons, offering a glimpse of light in a historically crime-ridden area. 

Chief Eddie Garcia shared details of another arrest, highlighting the impact on violent crime. This targeted effort aligns with the department’s “focused deterrence” strategy, aiming to disrupt criminal activity and provide support to vulnerable communities.

While some, like neighbor Jo Ann Lakey Brown, expressed relief and gratitude for the action, others like Brown admitted lingering concerns about safety. The raids, however, demonstrate proactive efforts to address residents’ long-standing anxieties about crime in Oak Cliff.

A press conference promised further details about the arrests, the gang’s alleged activities, and the broader strategy to combat violent crime in the neighborhood. This coordinated operation marks a significant step towards a safer Oak Cliff, offering residents a renewed sense of hope and a glimpse into the city’s commitment to fighting crime.

WFAA-TV reported on November 21, 2023, that a 22-year-old Dallas man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison after taking a plea deal in an armed carjacking. The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Leigha Simonton, announced that the man pleaded guilty in January 2023 to carjacking a woman at gunpoint in 2020. 

According to plea papers, on October 7, 2020, just two hours after committing another carjacking, the man approached a woman in her driveway, pulled her by the hair and pointed a gun while forcing her into her car. According to court documents, he drove off with the woman inside the car who was “begging for her life.” 

Eventually, the man pulled the car over and told that woman she had five seconds to run, or she would be shot, the court documents said. Police said after the carjacking was reported, the man was later arrested and identified.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ Dallas Field Division led the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Tromblay prosecuted the case.

“This is another example of the ATF’s and our U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to aggressively pursuing those who commit violent crimes in Dallas,” Simonton said. “Reducing violent crime is not enough – we will not rest as long as any citizen is victimized in this way. I am proud that this case serves as an example of that commitment.”

On November 17, 2023, the man was sentenced by United States District Judge Sam A. Lindsey. “ATF remains vigilant and steadfast in our fight against violent crime in North Texas. ATF is grateful to the United States Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners who work tirelessly to pursue the worst of the worst lawbreakers who commit these heinous crimes,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffry C. Boshek II said. The man “now has 15 years to think about and regret his actions.” 

KTVT-TV reported on December 1, 2023, that a 26-year-old man from Dallas was facing a potential 30-year prison sentence after being indicted on multiple gun trafficking charges. According to court documents, the man admitted to federal agents that he was paid $6,000 by a Mexican contact, nicknamed “El Tio,” to transport weapons across the border.

His plan, as detailed in the indictment, involved collecting an empty trailer at a Dallas Walmart parking lot. Days later, he returned to find the trailer filled with guns, hidden behind a false wall. 

On October 30th, the man attempted to cross the border at Eagle Pass, but alert agents discovered the arsenal of 187 firearms, including handguns, shotguns, and assault rifles. The man, according to court documents, freely admitted to being involved in two previous smuggling operations for the same Mexican contact. 

He appeared in federal court with his attorney yet to make a statement. This case highlights a disturbing trend revealed by the CBS News Texas I-Team. 

Faced with increased law enforcement presence in border cities, Mexican cartels are turning to Dallas and the surrounding area as a recruiting ground for “straw buyers” – individuals who purchase guns on their behalf – and “transporters” like the man who move the weapons across the border.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on December 13, 2023, that two more people were charged for scamming Chinese investors out of more than $26 million, announced United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton. A 65-year-old man and 42-year-old woman were charged in a superseding indictment filed this week with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of securities fraud. 

They are scheduled to make their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Rebecca Rutherford on December 22, 2023. According to the indictment, the two conspired with another alleged offender to market real estate investment opportunities in Texas to Chinese investors.

During presentations – which highlighted one man’s supposed ties to United States politicians – the men allegedly claimed that the properties in question were located in sought-after neighborhoods in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. The man was introduced as a builder who would purchase lots to build on to sell to future home buyers.

Investors were promised annual interest payments for two years, followed by the return of their initial investment at the end of the second year. It was alleged that the investors would contribute 80 percent of the funds necessary for the project, and the men would contribute the remaining 20 percent.  

It was also represented that no commissions would be paid out of investor funds. In loan agreements signed by the investors, the cost of each property was inflated by as much as 195 percent, and in some instances, never actually purchased the property.  

Early investors were allegedly paid interest payments with investor funds from later projects. Contrary to loan agreements, the alleged offenders allegedly paid commissions out of investors’ funds, and even funneled investors’ money into unrelated projects. 

Still other funds were used to pay consultants or even to pay an unrelated company’s AmEx bill.  According to the indictment, investors lost more than $26,000,000 to the scheme.

An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. The defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

If convicted, each defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and up to 20 years in federal prison for securities fraud.

In September 2022, the DOJ announced that the Dallas man who allegedly scammed Chinese investors out of more than $26 million was federally charged and indicted on seven counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of securities fraud. He made his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge David L. Horan.

On July 28, 2023, WFAA-TV reported that a two-year investigation culminated in the indictments of more than 30 people, targeting violent offenders and dismantling criminal operations in the Dallas area. The FBI and Dallas Police Department (DPD) announced the results of the joint effort on July 28th, emphasizing its focus on disarming and disbanding local threats.

Over 30 individuals were indicted. Charges ranged from drug trafficking and firearm possession to involvement in organized crime.

More than 200 officers and agents from various local and federal agencies participated in the operation. Over 540 grams of cocaine, 1,100 grams of methamphetamine, and numerous firearms were confiscated.

The investigation spanned two years, showcasing dedication to tackling deep-rooted criminal activity. Local officials vowed to maintain partnerships and prioritize violent crime reduction.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported on June 23, 2023, that a lawsuit stemming from the controversial 2019 arrest of two cybersecurity testers who broke into the Dallas County Courthouse to assess building security has been moved to federal court, adding a new twist to the long-simmering case. The two men, employed by Coalfire Labs, were arrested for burglary after entering the courthouse to test its security as part of a contract with the Iowa Judicial Branch.

Their arrest sparked controversy, with lawmakers questioning the legality of hiring a company to commit crimes and judicial officials apologizing for the incident. The men sued Dallas County and Sheriff Chad Leonard, claiming false arrest, abuse of process, and other charges.

The case has been moved to United States District Court, based on a federal law allowing lawsuits against government employees for civil rights violations under state law. Dallas County argues they had no knowledge of the testing and lacked the authority to grant permission for entry.

In September 2019, the men, working for Coalfire Labs, successfully breached security at the Iowa Judicial Building and left a business card as planned. They were then contacted by a judicial branch worker congratulating them on their success.

A few days later, they attempted a similar test at the Dallas County Courthouse. After finding an unlocked door, they locked it and began trying to break in undetected. 

They intentionally triggered an alarm, presented deputies with a “get-out-of-jail-free letter” from the state court administrator, and were initially allowed to leave. However, Sheriff Leonard intervened and ordered their arrest.

The men claim their contract with the Iowa Judicial Branch explicitly authorized “physical attacks” on buildings, including lockpicking and physical entry. They argue their arrest was unlawful and resulted in damages.

Dallas County denies any knowledge of the testing or authorization for courthouse entry. They claim the state court administrator lacked the authority to grant such permission and argue the arrest was justified.

The case raises questions about the legality of hiring private companies to conduct security assessments that involve potentially illegal actions. It also highlights the potential for confusion and conflict when different governmental entities are involved.

The move to federal court could expedite the case, as federal courts often have shorter backlogs than state courts. However, the legal issues remain complex and a trial could still be months or even years away.

The Oak Cliff Advocate reported on July 28, 2023, that a joint two-year investigation by the FBI and Dallas Police Department’s gang unit concluded with the arrests of 15 individuals in Oak Cliff on charges of drug and firearm possession. It marked the latest development in a larger operation that has netted a total of 34 indictments.

Authorities seized a significant arsenal of weapons and drugs:

  • 25 firearms, including Glock switches that illegally convert semi-automatic handguns into fully-automatic weapons
  • Numerous bags of cash
  • Cocaine, crack-cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl

The operation showcased the collaboration between the FBI and the Dallas Police Department in tackling violent crime in the city. As FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Chad Yarbrough emphasized at a press conference on Friday, the operation aligns with Chief Garcia’s violent crime reduction plan.

Yarbrough stressed the long-term approach and strategic nature of the operation, aiming to dismantle criminal enterprises and gangs rather than simply incarcerating individuals for short periods. This commitment to thorough investigations is expected to continue in the coming months.

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton highlighted the seriousness of the offenders and the potential consequences: Some individuals were previously convicted felons in possession of unregistered firearms, and convictions could lead to sentences of up to 40 years in federal prison.

Simonton emphasized the strong correlation between drug trafficking and gun violence, underlining the importance of such operations. Over 200 law enforcement officers from various agencies participated in the investigation, demonstrating the strength of collaboration in combating crime. 

Facing Federal Charges in Dallas

Drug crimes are a frequent staple in federal court for a reason: the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. This Act created a national framework for classifying and regulating drugs, impacting both federal and state enforcement.

The Act banned substances like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, creating a list known as the “schedules.” Drugs are placed into five schedules based on their medical use acceptance and abuse potential. 

Schedule I includes drugs with no accepted medical use and high abuse potential (e.g., heroin), while Schedule V drugs have lower abuse potential and may have accepted medical uses (e.g., some cough syrups). The Act established the DEA as the primary enforcer of these nationwide regulations. 

This means the DEA can sometimes supersede state prosecutions to pursue bigger drug trafficking cases. The Controlled Substance Act provides a consistent framework for drug laws across the United States, helping to prevent discrepancies and loopholes between states.

The DEA’s involvement allows for centralized investigation and prosecution of large-scale drug trafficking networks, often extending beyond state borders. The schedule system recognizes the potential medical benefits of some drugs while focusing stricter penalties on substances with high abuse potential and no accepted medical uses.

Understanding the Controlled Substance Act and its impact on federal drug crime prosecutions is crucial for anyone interested in legal issues or seeking information about drug laws in the United States.

Like the Controlled Substance Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) of 1970 marks a critical turning point in American law enforcement. But instead of targeting specific substances, RICO targets the very structure of criminal organizations.

Think of it this way: While the Controlled Substance Act takes down bricks in the wall of organized crime, RICO aims to demolish the entire building. RICO goes beyond individual crimes to prosecute the heads of criminal organizations – from Mafia dons to corporate executives exploiting their positions for unlawful gains.

Any member of an organization involved in specific crimes like money laundering, human trafficking, gambling, or bribery within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. This allows prosecutors to connect seemingly disparate acts under one umbrella.

Compared to proving individual crimes, demonstrating a pattern of racketeering activity can be simpler, making it a potent tool for dismantling entire criminal operations. A racketeering conviction carries the sting of 20 years in prison per count and hefty fines, along with asset forfeiture of anything gained through illegal means.

Federal laws extend far beyond government buildings, protecting vital services and online transactions. This means committing fraud against agencies like the IRS, Medicaid, or even the US Postal system can lead to serious federal charges.

Trying to game the system by falsely claiming Social Security benefits, falsifying tax forms for fraudulent advantage, or engaging in online fraud on platforms like eBay and Amazon can all put you on the radar of federal law enforcement. The stakes are high, as these offenses cost taxpayers billions each year, prompting the government to crack down on offenders.

Facing federal fraud charges requires a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney to navigate the complex legal landscape. Having someone by your side who understands the intricacies of federal law and procedure can be crucial in achieving the best possible outcome.

Other charges often pursued at a federal level include counterfeiting, which the Secret Service investigates, weapons charges, especially those involving federal facilities such as airports, sex crimes like traveling to another state to engage in sex with a minor, and human trafficking, which involves transporting workers across international borders for any purpose.

Federal Charges Defense in Dallas, TX

If you are facing any kind of federal charges in the greater Dallas area, you cannot afford to delay in seeking competent legal counsel who can handle your needs. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy handles a wide variety of federal cases and will be able to support you during what is likely to be a very stressful time.

Our firm knows the most effective defenses in these types of cases and will be able to fight to help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your case. Call (972) 233-5700 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.