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Investigation leads to conviction for Wisconsin man

Authorities in Wisconsin announced the culmination of prosecution against a 30-year-old man who they allege led a major drug trafficking ring using couriers. The Sheboygan man pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges and was sentenced.

Drug task forces from Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties, along with authorities from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Manitowoc County district attorney's office conducted the investigation. Authorities said the defendant led the Balderas Organization, which they alleged conspired to transport in excess of five kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana from Texas to the areas in and around Manitowoc County. Federal authorities took the defendant into custody May 29, 2012. The US Attorney's office announced on Dec. 10 that the US District Court judge hearing the case had sentenced him to 10 years and four months in prison.

Investigators said the organization sent some drugs by mail while others went by couriers who drove the drugs from Texas to Wisconsin. Authorities said the defendant selected people in Wisconsin who he thought would not attract police attention and had the couriers transport less than 50 pounds of marijuana because Texas law enforcement would often simply seize that amount without charging the person.

The couriers purchased, rented or borrowed vehicles in Texas and loaded them with drugs for the return trip to Wisconsin. Prosecutors said that, along with hiring, supervising and paying the couriers, the defendant portioned and distributed the drugs and laundered from $300,000 to $500,000.

Conviction on drug charges can have serious consequences and can lead to extended prison terms. A lawyer working with those who face such charges might analyze the facts of a case to see if investigators followed the correct protocol during the investigation. If such an error occurs, the lawyer may be able to argue that the evidence should not be allowed in court, weakening the case against his or her client.

Source: jsonline.com, "Drug kingpin gets 10 years in prison for Texas-to-Wisconsin trafficking", Ashley Luthern, December 10, 2013

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