Virginia Federal Drug Enforcement
At the street level, the most common arrest scenario in Virginia Federal drug cases involves the use of a confidential informant. This is a person who may have been arrested for possession or small level distribution that law enforcement will get to cooperate with Federal authorities or a joint Federal and State task force to provide information about people who are higher up. The way that it typically works is that when a person gets arrested, he or she sits down in the room with their Virginia federal drug lawyer and prosecutor and discuss ways that the can help him or her down the line, one of those ways is by cooperating with the government.
Typically the way this works is the person will be put back on the street with a handler and that person becomes the confidential informant for the government. That person will then attempt to arrange drug purchases from people that he or she knows, all under the supervision of a Federal agent. That person will very often go and make purchases under the supervision of a Federal agent. When the agent feels the time is right, the target of that subsequent investigation will be arrested.
Federal Drug Arrests
You do not have to be arrested by a Federal agent to be charged with a Federal drug offense. There are many cases that originate at the state level, only to be dropped at state level so that the Federal Government can pick them up. In many cases, drug arrests are made by task forces that include both state and Federal authorities, which makes it depend entirely upon what investigators and prosecutors wish to do. Very often, they have both jurisdictions available to them and it’s up to them to decide where they want to prosecute.
If a person is arrested at the state level for a drug crime and that arrest gets reported to an agent in the task force that includes Federal authorities, information might reveal that the person who was arrested at the State level could be of assistance in a larger drug investigation that is being managed by the Federal authorities. Under those circumstances, a person might see their charges dropped at the State level and picked up at the Federal level to incorporate any subsequent prosecution of the larger case under one roof in Federal Courts.
When Will a Federal Arrest Typically Take Place?
The government will usually wait until they are sure they have enough to evidence to convict a person before they make an arrest. There are very few cases where the Federal government will arrest someone and charge them on flimsy evidence. If the government finds out that someone is distributing drugs, they are going to build a case that’s going to almost always have more than one event so that they can threaten that person with multiple accounts of an indictment or arrest.
It is hard to say exactly what it would be that would be enough to trigger in arrest, because very often, it’s when the government feels like they have enough to go forward and win the prosecution.
Difference Between Local and Federal Arrests
Local authorities generally have less patience when it comes to a drug arrest than the Federal government does. If the local authorities spot an illegal activity, they are going to arrest that individual on the spot. This is different from how Federal drug prosecutions generally go, in the sense that they very carefully build their cases before they place a person under arrest.
That is not universally true, of course; the state can also build cases by increasing the number of buys that they can get out of that person. But generally speaking, the federal government has much more patience when it comes to placing people under arrest.
The Federal government does not always manage to build their entire case before making an arrest, especially if they feel like a person is not going to be easy to locate, but that is their preference. If the government has somebody tracked down and they feel like they might not be able to find that person down the line, they might try to figure out what’s going on and if there is more to come from an investigation, after the fact of the arrest.
However, if they know where a person lives, know where a person works; and know the people that he hangs out with, then they will usually exercise patience and wait to build a bigger case.