Local police say a two-year investigation has helped weaken a Jacksonville gang known for dealing drugs and breaking into houses. The arrests have been made since police started investigating a January 2013 homicide, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union, so it has been an incremental dismantling - not just one sweep leading to a couple of dozen arrests. While most gang-related charges center on drugs, police say this gang also committed several residential burglaries within its territory near downtown Jacksonville, the newspaper reported.
Since the investigation began, police say they've taken five guns, 11 kilograms of cocaine, 20 pounds of marijuana and almost $30,000, the newspaper reported. A state law called the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or the RICO Act, allows for upgraded penalties if the state can prove that the crimes are gang-related. Prosecutors must first prove that the gang or criminal enterprise exists. Then, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the crimes at issue were committed to further the criminal enterprise. Any gang-related charges typically come after whatever the defendant is arrested for in the first place. For example, in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, a man was accused of robbing another man, then shooting another person who tried to stop the robbery, the newspaper reported. The man was initially charged with armed robbery, aggravated battery and shooting into a home - all serious felonies. Armed robbery and aggravated battery are both first-degree felonies and armed robbery can have a life sentence for someone who is convicted. But recently, police added two RICO charges to in the case, adding two more 30-year enhancements on top of what the 25-year-old man is already facing.
In order to make those claims stand up in court, police must have some sort of inside information at the gang level. The threat of the RICO charges can also be used by the state to try to move negotiations along in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case or a Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case. Not only can the threat of another 30 years help coax someone along, it could also encourage the state to get one of the defendants to testify against another of the defendants in the case. Jacksonville Robbery Cases are serious on their own, first-degree felonies if people are accused of using a gun in the crime, and often people will do what they can to have their own sentence reduced. Police are also looking for two more of the gang leaders and are likely trying to publicize the case to help get more information about the whereabouts of the suspects.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.