A Palmetto resident, Ramiro Hermosillo-Salazar, has been recently sentenced to 30 years in prison. Authorities discovered a methamphetamine lab along with 400 pounds of crystal and liquid methamphetamine in his home. They also discovered several loaded firearms.
“Methamphetamine is the most trafficked illegal drug in Georgia, and it has devastated the lives of many of our fellow citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Hermosillo produced hundreds of pounds of the drug in a ‘superlab' in his home where his young children resided. Thanks to the efforts of the DEA and local law enforcement partners, this cache of drugs is off our streets. Our effort to aggressively confront the methamphetamine problem continues, and we will seek lengthy sentences for those who peddle this poison.”
According to the information presented in court, a multi-month DEA investigation revealed Ramiro Hermosillo-Salazar as a possible member of a methamphetamine trafficking organization. On June 15th of last year, federal DEA agents and the S.W.A.T. team of the Coweta County Sheriff's Office searched Hermosillo-Salazar's residence. They arrested the defendant and discovered his three minor children in residence. They found two labs containing 400 pounds of pure crystal and liquid methamphetamine, three loaded rifles, and over $12,000 in cash. Later on October 4th, he pleaded guilty to the following charges in court:
- conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute,
- possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute,
- possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute on premises where minor children resided,
- and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.
Hermosillo was sentenced to 30 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay restitution to the government for the cost of dismantling the lab. Following his term of imprisonment, Hermosillo, a citizen of Mexico, will be deported from the United States.
It's important to look at the following charges to better understand what Hermosillo would be facing in Georgia, regarding methamphetamine, had he not been charged in federal court.
Possession of Methamphetamine in Georgia
Methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug in Georgia. Schedule II drugs include crack cocaine, morphine, opium, and methadone. O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30(a) states it is unlawful for any person to purchase, possess, or have under his or her control any controlled substance.The punishment for being charged with possession of methamphetamine is a prison term of five to thirty years. The crime is a felony. However, according to O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(d), a second offense means a penalty of imprisonment of ten to forty years or a possibility of life in prison. Defenses to possession of methamphetamine in Georgia include:
- I did not know that I possessed methamphetamine (also known as unwitting possession)
- The police used an illegal stop
- Lack of possession
If there is evidence of an intent to distribute, then we look to a completely separate charge.
Possession of a Schedule II Drug with Intent to Distribute in Georgia
Possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute is a separate crime from possession of methamphetamine. According to O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30(b), “It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, sell, or possess with intent to distribute any controlled substance.” The penalty for being charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute is classified as a felony. The accused faces imprisonment of five to thirty years. However, a second offender will be punished with a sentence to prison for ten to forty years or even a possibility of life in prison. Defenses to a possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in Georgia include:
- Lack of intent
- The police used an illegal stop
- It was a private resident not at a housing project or park
- The amount was not enough to distribute
However, like Hermosillo's situation, if the accused is found with greater than twenty-eight grams, the crime will be escalated to a trafficking charge.
Trafficking a Schedule II Drug in Georgia
Again, methamphetamine is a Schedule II in Georgia. Being charged with trafficking methamphetamine has severe consequences. The difference between possession, selling, and manufacturing methamphetamine from trafficking is determined by the amount seized. Twenty-eight grams of methamphetamine is the dividing line according to O.C.G.A. 16-13-31. The determinations are as follows:
- 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams is a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years and a fine of $200,000
- 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams is a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a fine of $300,000
- 400 grams or more, the person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 25 years and a fine of $1,000,000
Defenses to a trafficking methamphetamine in Georgia include:
- Illegal means
- I was not the leader of the activity
- I didn't have possession
- The amount was incorrect
- I should not be convicted of both manufacturing methamphetamine and trafficking methamphetamine
In order to face these serious charges, the accused will need a top-rated Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer.
If you have been charged with a crime in Georgia, you need to hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer. Just because you are charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty or that you deserve to be treated as if you are guilty. We never assume you are guilty no matter the facts. We will work tirelessly to investigate and fight your case. Contact us today.