According to officials out of both Hall and Forsyth Counties, close to fifty people have been arrested in connection to a drug operation that has resulted in the seizure of over fifty kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin.
All of the suspects who have been arrested are facing serious drug trafficking charges as well as violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The Sheriff in Forsyth County stated at a press conference earlier today that “This is not just a drug bust. This is the disruption of a criminal element.”
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will focus today's post on the law behind the RICO Act and just what actions constitute as violations accordingly.
RICO in Georgia
Violations of RICO in Georgia are defined by Georgia Law in O.C.G.A. §16-14-4 as four different ways that a person can violate the act. These actions include:
- By directly or indirectly acquiring or maintaining any interest in or control of any enterprise, real property or personal property through a pattern of racketeering or the proceeds derived from the activity;
- By directly or indirectly participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity while being employed by, or associated with, the enterprise;
- By conspiring or endeavoring to directly or indirectly acquire or maintain any interest in, or control of, any enterprise, real property or personal property through a pattern of racketeering activity or the proceeds derived from a pattern of racketeering activity; or
- By conspiring or endeavoring to directly or indirectly participate in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity while being employed by, or associated with, the enterprise.
There are many crimes that can be used to show a pattern of unlawful conduct. The predicate crimes that fall under the RICO statute in Georgia include drug offenses, homicide, bodily injury, arson, burglary, forgery, theft, prostitution, obscene materials, bribery, witness tampering, perjury, evidence tampering, commercial gambling, distilling liquors and alcoholic beverages, firearm violations, securities violations, credit card fraud, computer crimes, kidnapping, carjacking, and making terroristic threats.
Any kind of violation of the RICO Act is classified as a felony. If the penalty is prison, the term will be between five and twenty years. If the penalty is a fine, it will not exceed the greater of $25,000.00 or three times the amount of any pecuniary value gained by him or her from such violation. The fine amount will be determined by a hearing.
Call a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney today if you have been arrested.