Earlier this week, we wrote that Wisconsin authorities have charged 24 defendants following a major investigation into an alleged drug ring and illegal gambling scheme. Law enforcement officials believe that 17 of the defendants were conspiring to sell more than 2,000 pounds of high-grade, imported marijuana.
If convicted for drug crimes, the defendants could face a maximum sentence of life in prison. During the investigation, authorities also discovered an alleged gambling scheme based in Southeast Wisconsin.
Of the 24 defendants, 13 have been charged with gambling. Two of the defendants have been charged with racketeering, which means operating an illegal business or scheme in order to make money. The term is often associated with organized crime.
According to an Assistant U.S. Attorney on the case, the gambling operation was rather sophisticated and brought in tens of thousands of dollars each week. The Attorney said the sports betting operation relied on cell phone text messaging and calls to deliver odds and receive wagers.
It is important to remember that despite the long-term approach, large police busts are almost always messy. It is quite possible that several defendants may have had nothing to do with either drugs or gambling but were merely swept up in the chaos of the investigation and raid.
Additionally, a DEA agent on the case admitted that authorities "utilized every law available" to investigate and charge the defendants. Large criminal investigations often result in defendants being charged with as many crimes as possible. This increases the likelihood of a major conviction and gives police an opportunity to look tough on crime.
This bust certainly looks big, but the dust has yet to settle. When it does, hopefully justice will prevail and the defendants will have their say in court.
Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online, "24 face drug, gambling charges," John Diedrich, 02 June 2011