The federal drug conspiracy laws stack the deck against the defendant. I cannot decide if I believe they were created with that intention in mind, or if they were written by people that have no understanding of addiction.
After 7 years of being clean, I still remember all too well my addictive ways, behavior, and my crazy brain when I was in my active addiction. So, when I read about the elements of proof needed for the drug conspiracy laws and I approach understanding thinking back to how I was, it is all too clear that an addict is set up for failure and there should be no surprise that the prison system is bursting at the seams. An addict’s illness is used against them from every aspect, the federal government’s tactics like using ghosts instead of real evidence, makes a conviction as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
I want to set the stage and explain the depth of an addict’s mind before I tackle the elements of proof. I think back to the time frame my discovery covers and it was not like me or any of my codefendants got together and said things to each other like, “this thing of ours,” nor did we sit around pledging loyalty to one another like the mafia, which these conspiracy laws were created for. No! We had pledged our allegiance to our addictions.
The people on my indictment were in the orbit of meth and would swoon around worshiping it like it was God. We loved all things meth. But most of all, we just had to have it. At least that is what our brains had convinced us.
Unfortunately, when you graduate to a healthy habit, and that is inevitably to occur, you must pay a king’s ransom to support it. An addict will always find a way and might just be the most creative person you will ever meet.
As adults, we learn that all the stores like Sam’s and Costco and places where you buy things like peanut butter in a bucket that will last you and your entire neighborhood a month are much cheaper, even though you do not need all that. I swear that translates in an addict’s brain. I really do. The same concept works for buying meth and for people that shop in bulk at the store thinking they must buy their drugs that way too. The more you get the cheaper it is, but not only that, you have so much more, so you will not run out.
Like the crazy people that buy all the toilet paper they could stuff in a cart during the pandemic, driven by fear they will run out. They are not looking to make a profit or profession out of their situation, they are merely doing what they think they need to do to survive. They are not trying to supply anyone but themselves and make sure there is enough for them. That is a raging meth addict in a nutshell. A meth addict is driven by that same fear multiplied by about 1000. As they fall down the rabbit hole of addiction their brain tells them it is never enough and getting all you can is a compulsion that leads the way.
Meth is like a divine infatuation that mercilessly eats you and every aspect of your life, alive. Meth got me through some of the hardest times in my life that now looking back were caused by the drug itself. It is a sick and twisted vicious cycle. Like an abusive spouse that beats the hell out of you and then comforts you. The one that gets you so low that even the tiniest improvement feels like they just moved a mountain. That lowest low where you invent a blessing just because you need it to survive the next moments of your life. Ah but meth will get you through, like a magic carpet swooping in. Until the magic stops, the carpet you are riding on disappears, and you fall from the heavens back into your unrecognizable pathetic self… You can change out the word meth and put in whatever drug an addict is hooked on. It is all about the same at the end of the day.
If you look at my indictment, you see an interesting group of creatures from all walks of life, and it is clear that no one is safe. All these people with such different backgrounds became unsavory characters in the name of the methamphetamine tribe. And guess how they met… drugs. Doing them, finding them, selling them to get more of them. Just like a star trek convention brings out the Trekkies, or however you say it. Meth brings out the addicts to search to the ends of the earth for more. And in their search, the terrible attributes, habits, and attitudes allow them to flock together with the rest of the meth followers. As the drug has taken full command and is navigating the ship, every move becomes justified in the name of the drug.
So, when the county cops cannot seem to catch you no matter how many times they pull you over, or how hard they search, or how much they tear your truck up from top to bottom, they get a bit upset, and I cannot say I blame them… You see at the state level these officers need some evidence to do the deed and act.
When they know you are high and they know somewhere you have drugs, but they just can’t figure it out, they call in the feds.
With the federal government, comes the conspiracy laws that were initially created for the mafia members the state just could not seem to catch in the act. The state could never convict so many of these criminals without actual evidence that was needed at the state level.
So, the federal government fixed that little problem and created conspiracy laws and went ahead and applied them to the common folk struggling with a disease called addiction. The conspiracy laws stacked the deck and tilted the playing field to the point where a drug defendant does not stand a chance. If all you have is a hammer, it does not mean everything is a nail. The majority of the nonviolent drug offenders piled in the human warehouses across this country, do Not deserve to be there.
If you are an addict , have a loved one or someone close that is an addict , or just have educated yourself on the disease itself, when you read the federal drug conspiracy elements of proof, there is almost some humor in it. Coming from a former addict, when I read about these laws and the elements needed to prove them, I cannot help but think they were written by people with no knowledge of an addict’s mind. Or maybe they did know, and the intentions were to corral a bunch of addicts battling their disease and turn them into cash cows. If the lawmakers wrote the conspiracy laws to accomplish mass incarceration, then they should pat themselves on the back, they sure have succeeded.
So, let me break down the elements of proof needed to establish that a defendant conspired to distribute drugs under 21 U.S.C. 846 and explain the addict perspective.
1. THE GOVERNMENT MUST PROVE THAT THERE WAS A CONSPIRACY, i.e., AN AGREEMENT TO DISTRIBUTE DRUGS.
So, most people I have encountered in federal prison were active addicts when they caught their case. I had no intention on hopping on the conspiracy train. But did I know there was an agreement to buy drugs? Well, I was an addict with an extremely expensive habit, and I was at the point of my addiction that always being able to get it was the goal. So yes, I did agree to buy these drugs I thought were the most precious commodity on the planet, and I sold my soul. That is what my disease had convinced me to believe. I did not stop to think about what happened to the person that went before me when I stepped up to the plate? No. For every person you incarcerated for drugs, there will be plenty more to take their place. There will always be another addict to take the crash dummy position when it comes available.
But keep in mind the federal government could convict a ham sandwich if they felt like it (not an original quote by me). There is no need for hard evidence like wiretap, selling to an undercover, or recovered text messages. None of that is needed. This is where the infamous ghost comes in.
Ghost dope is an easy way to get a conviction and an easy way to lock in the elements of proof. Just so we are clear, ghost dope is when someone makes a statement saying the person the feds are looking to indict either sold drugs or they just saw them with the drugs. They can say whatever weight they want because the drugs never even needed to exist. Since most drug addicts love to tell stories about the amount of drugs they did or saw, this is a no brainer.
Now most of the people making the statements are suffering from a mental illness. They are drug addicts already in trouble , already in the presence of the police with the possibility of incarceration . To this addict in trouble, leaving the streets means leaving the drugs they love, and they think is more important than air, and they will say anything . The larger the number of drugs they say they saw, the better deal they get and the more time someone else gets, but they might get to live another day in the streets getting high. But that is why making a case is so easy for the federal government, it’s easy to get piles of statements by other addicts. They will not fight and instead will willingly just line up, and are happy to go along for the ride.
To prove this element and show that an agreement was made with co-conspirators to distribute drugs is as simple as writing it down on a piece of paper.
2. THAT THE DEFENDANT KNEW OF THE CONSPIRACY
Addiction is a mental illness and an addict lives from puff to puff or shot to shot. There is little structure about the arrangements just an addict looking for an avenue to get what they want. I never wanted to be a supplier and I was embarrassed and ashamed that I even did drugs. Even though I was ashamed, I was on a mission to get high and make sure I continued to get high. My intentions were only to accomplish one goal, to take away from my own pain and trauma that I desperately needed a break from. Just another day, another minute to make that pain go away, just a little longer so I could feel like everything was alright even though it wasn’t real. But it was all smoke and mirrors, pun intended.
I did not hang out with people much but with ghost dope in play, I did not have to. My discovery was filled with reports where multiple drug addicts had no clue who I was, yet they agreed to telling the police the same story somehow. These reports were eerily similar to each other and told that I was a person that lived in a specific hotel, in a specific room, for over a year and not a single officer questioned it until I raised hell about it. My identity was horribly mistaken by all these people that somehow pointed their finger at me when I was nowhere near that location .
So, to prove an agreement was made with co-conspirators to distribute drugs is extremely simple. This element sounds like the co defendants came together and planned and sounds so sinister, but you are giving addicts way too much credit.
3. THE DEFENDANT INTENTIONALLY JOINED THE CONSPIRACY.
When an addict’s mind is so clouded by drugs and mental illness, they will agree to things a sober version of them never would. While one person’s courage might be liquid, another person might find theirs in the form of powder. At the end of the day the concept is all the same. The gravitational pull to ease human suffering in an instant is the same no matter what you call comfort. The nonviolent drug offenders that surround me in the federal prison camp I was in were just looking to get high and were in search of a way to leave their problems behind.
Again, there is little needed to make this one stick. Just conjure up a ghost and you have yourself a conviction!
In conclusion we have all watched those movies where the drug dealers sit around making plans and talking about their drug enterprise and their plans to take over the world. I am sure that happens somewhere. I am sure there are drug lords explaining to their people about how their camp is to run and what is expected of them. I am sure there are drug lords pumping kids full of their terrible intentions, clouding their hopes and dreams as they hand over their soul for just a little hit or even just some protection. Well guess what? That is not real life for the majority of addicts and drug offenders. That is dramatic and not how it normally goes in the real world. There is no need for talking, planning or conspiring. Drugs sell themselves and someone is always sick enough to lower themselves to selling them. So many of us made huge mistakes but that is not who we are. After we clean up, you have a whole new creature to deal with. I believe prison changed my life but with no proof needed, the lengthy federal sentences to be served at 85% is a danger zone and needs some serious regulation and change.