Twenty-seven members of the largest drug ring in the Cape Cod area were arrested in connection to a drug trafficking scheme. The ring is thought to have over thirty total participants. Authorities seized heroin, cocaine, boats, and a limousine.
Authorities through a series of tips were able to narrow down suspects a confidential tip. Finally, after a two-year investigation of Kyle Hicks, Adalberto Graciani, Kelvin Frye, and Russell Rose, federal agents were able to apprehend the four leaders of the operation. Arrests were made when agents intercepted packages containing drugs sent and exchanged between the men. Often the drugs were cleverly disguised: one man attempted to transport heroin by inserting the drug into a cupcake; while another put the drug into a toy box. The agents were first tipped off by E Customs, a jet ski and motorcycle repair shop. The front shop entertained a lot of customers, but few owned motorcycles or jet skis.
Of the twenty-seven people arrested twelve will face a maximum of forty years on federal charges, the other fifteen, charged with conspiracy to violate the controlled substance act face sentences up to ten years. Arraignments were made the 1st of April, but there was no mention of trial dates.
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Attorney Tofani, of counsel to Parker|Scheer, LLP and an associate of the firm's criminal practice group, reflects:
Both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article Fourteen of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights guarantee the right to be free from government action that amounts to unreasonable searches and seizures of persons and property. Subject to very few exceptions, investigating officials are required to present in the form of an affidavit, to a magistrate, sufficient evidence to establish probable cause in support of a search warrant. Thus, searches and seizures conducted in the absence of a warrant in authorization thereof are presumably unreasonable for purposes of constitutional analysis.
Accordingly, defense counsel will likely challenge the evidence presented to the court, supporting the suspected existence of illegal activity. An anonymous tip, standing alone, is insufficient to establish probable cause in support of a search warrant. Ultimately, if defense counsel can establish that the search warrant relied upon was issued in the absence of probable cause, the evidence obtained there from can be suppressed as it is 'fruit of the poisonous tree.'
The warrant applicants will generally present evidence that corroborates any anonymous tips provided by informants, usually acquired though independent police investigation. Additionally, a heightened level of scrutiny is applied when the court determines the probative value of an anonymous tip. More specifically, the court will scrutinize both the tipster's basis of knowledge and their veracity. In other words, the warrant applicant is required to present evidence establishing how the tipster knew what they claim to know; and, why the tipster is credible, and the information provided is reliable. If the record contains insufficient evidence to satisfy these prongs, the court will likely disregard the anonymous tip, and look to alternative evidence bolstering the warrant applicant's suspicion of criminal activity. If there is nothing more, than the warrant is out along with any incriminating evidence obtained there from.
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