Continuing Criminal Enterprises in Chattanooga

The Continuing Criminal Enterprise Statute (CCE Statute) is a federal law that aims to enhance penalties for high volume dealers or drug traffickers responsible for large, sophisticated drug conspiracies. While somewhat similar to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the CCE Statute only applies to large narcotics traffickers. This statute makes it a federal drug crime to conspire or otherwise commit a continuing series of felony violations of the comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 with five or more other people.

When Criminal Enterprise Charges Are Brought to Bare

These are charges that are likely brought when there is a drug conspiracy or large-scale investigation into a group of individuals, who, under federal law and in federal court, are facing drug trafficking crimes. In order for the federal prosecutor to convict an individual under this statute, the alleged offender must have been an organizer, manager, or supervisor of the continuing operation. Someone whose involvement in the conspiracy is as a street-level drug seller cannot face this enhancement. A runner or someone otherwise responsible at the bottom of the organizational ladder would likely not be convicted of this offense.

However, the definition of manager or supervisor, quickly comes into play for someone who directed others within the organization. If the government has evidence of their management or supervision of individuals within the conspiracy, they will likely enhance the charges to continuing criminal enterprise when that individual faces federal drug conspiracy or drug trafficking charges.

The other component to convict someone is that they must have attained substantial income or resources from the drug violations.

Penalties for Being Charged with Running a Continuing Criminal Enterprise

Under federal law, a continuing criminal enterprise conviction carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years incarceration in federal prison. Realistically, people convicted of these crimes may face up to life imprisonment, even on a first conviction. The fine associated with a conviction for continuing criminal enterprise could be as high as $2,000,000. The government may also seize profits and properties that were the proceeds of ill-gotten gains under forfeiture laws.

Other penalties portions of the CCE Statute address the so-called “super kingpin” provision added in 1984. A person convicted of being a principal administrator, organizer, or leader, must serve a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole when the enterprise reaches certain thresholds, quantities, or revenue amounts.

Additionally, anyone engaged with a continuing criminal enterprise who murders or causes someone’s murder may be sentenced to the death penalty under federal law. In these cases, probation, parole, and suspended sentences are prohibited.

The Difference Between Conspiracy and a Continuing Enterprise

The key components separating continuing criminal enterprise from drug conspiracy charges are the threshold amounts and actions that the government must prove in order to bring enhancements. Evidence of how an organization works is a key component in order to charge someone with continuing criminal enterprise.

This evidence is often some of the most difficult to gather because it involves obtaining information from within a narcotics organization. Securing admissible evidence and testimony for the trial of the case is one of the most difficult tasks for the government when prosecuting drug conspiracy cases.

Permission to admit or otherwise present this evidence at trial is often something that the government often does not obtain. Having a lawyer who has experience arguing to exclude certain evidence that could lead to penalty enhancements is often key between facing much more lenient and manageable sentences or avoiding a conviction for a continuing criminal enterprise in Chattanooga altogether.

Why Working With a Chattanooga Lawyer is Essential

Having an experienced federal drug crime defense lawyer when facing volume charges or continuing criminal enterprise charges in Chattanooga is key to minimizing the impact of the case on them. Attorneys who have faced drug trafficking cases won in federal court, and stood up to the onslaught of the government’s evidence in these cases could help you effectively fight federal charges in the Eastern District of Tennessee. Call right away to get the legal help you need.

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