Authorities claim that a man who was detained on the morning of May 23 in the Bismarck-Mandan area is a member of a notoriously violent drug trafficking gang based in Texas. The man is accused of a January 2011 murder in Eagle Pass, Texas, allegedly an act of vengeance against a man who had cooperated with law enforcement.
The man faces charges of racketeering, assault with a deadly weapon and murder, according to a federal indictment. Authorities have stated that the man is a member of the Texas Mexican Mafia, a drug trafficking organization that emerged in the Texas prison system in the 1980s.
The accused in this case will likely wish to employ a criminal defense lawyer to handle his case, as he would face extremely severe penalties if convicted. A conviction of first-degree murder in Texas is punishable by the death sentence or life imprisonment. The penalties for drug trafficking vary based on the specific circumstances of the charge, including the type and quantity of the substance trafficked, and may include a lengthy prison term and substantial fines. Even if the defendant managed to avoid the death sentence and life imprisonment, a conviction would likely have a highly negative impact on his personal life.
Depending on the quality of evidence used against the defendant, a criminal defense lawyer in this case might attempt to secure a plea bargain with the U.S. attorney. A plea bargain could allow the defendant to face reduced charges or receive minimal penalties upon conviction. In this instance, avoiding the death penalty would likely be the top priority for the defense.
Source: KFGO, "Man tied to Texas drug gang arrested in Bismarck", May 24, 2014