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Maryland man charged as "drug kingpin"

The Maryland law books have a large number of statues determining the definition of a drug offender. There are, after all, many different types of offender -- from a casual user of pot, to those accused of dealing cocaine and heroin. One of the most serious classifications is "kingpin," a term reserved for those who are believed to have orchestrated the distribution of large amounts of illegal substances.

A Maryland man was accused of working as a drug kingpin following his arrest last week. The man was arrested after he allegedly attempted to sell cocaine to an undercover officer in Havre de Grace.

The police detective allegedly purchased 127 grams of the narcotic from the man, for which he paid $5,800. The transaction took place in a parking lot; the man supposedly hid the drugs in a secret compartment behind his radiator. During the transaction, the man allegedly told the undercover officer that the vehicle had recently been searched by police officers during a robbery investigation, but officers did not spot the two kilograms of cocaine that had been stashed behind the radiator.

Police later arrested the man and charged him as a drug kingpin. A search of his home revealed 820 grams of cocaine and several weapons, which led to additional charges for possession of a firearm related to drug trafficking crimes.

The kingpin charge alone carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, with a maximum of 40. It also carries a $1 million fine.

Drug crime classifications have always been somewhat controversial, as they can be applied fairly loosely. A charge of kingpin status, for example, requires less than a half of a kilogram of cocaine and evidence that the accused person organized its distribution. In such cases, judges and attorneys involved need to take care to ensure that the charges are appropriate for the alleged crimes.

Source:  Havre de Grace Patch, "Havre de Grace Man Charged as Drug Kingpin" Elizabeth Janney, Oct. 11, 2013

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