Man Pleads Guilty in Nevada's Biggest Meth Bust

December 12, 2012

Yesterday a twenty-seven year old man pleaded guilty to the Nevada crime of drug-trafficking stemming from the largest meth bust in Nevada history. He allegedly trafficked over two hundred pounds of meth worth nearly six million dollars. He will be sentenced in February, when prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence of nine years to life.


The Nevada crime of drug-trafficking occurs when a person either possesses, sells, makes, or transports large quantities of certain drugs. These drugs include Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances as well as to narcotics containing flunitrazepam or gamma-hydroxybutyrate. Note that Nevada has a separate law prohibiting trafficking of marijuana.Typical defenses to drug trafficking charges include that the drugs don't weigh enough or that the police performed an unlawful search.

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Nevada Drug Court Program Turns Twenty

October 22, 2012

Las Vegas Drug Court AppealThe 20-year old Nevada drug court program is being celebrated as a successful diversion alternative to prison. More than 5,200 people have graduated from the program since its inception, and 70 percent of them have committed no further crimes. The program has also resulted in 600 babies born drug-free.

The Nevada drug court program is meant to rehabilitate nonviolent drug offenders by offering treatment, counseling, and guidance. It usually lasts one year, and participants have to stay clean and submit to random drug testing. Upon successful completion of drug court, graduates are rewarded by the court dismissing the original drug charge.

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Former Las Vegas Prosecutor to be Sentenced in Drug Case

February 6, 2012

A former Clark County Deputy District Attorney who was charged with violating Nevada drug law is avoiding trial by accepting a plea bargain. The prosecutor pleaded guilty to felony unlawful possession of a controlled substance not for sale. The judge will agree to drop three felony charges. His plea stems from his arrest last year for allegedly buying crack. The former prosecutor will be sentenced later this month.

Nevada drug law includes dozens of different crimes including possession, possession for sale, sale, and trafficking. Possession is typically the least serious, whereas trafficking is the most serious. Typical defenses to drug allegations include that the drugs didn't belong to the defendant, or that the police performed an illegal search to find the drugs.

The majority of crimes in Nevada drug law are felonies. But in many cases, first offenders are permitted to complete Drug Court and rehab in exchange for a dismissal of the charges. And sometimes a felony may be plead down to a misdemeanor drug charge, which can them be cleared from the defendant's record only two years after the case is closed.

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"Bath Salts" Drugs Set to be Banned in Nevada

January 27, 2012

Last week the Nevada Pharmacy Board banned the manufacture, sale or use of "bath salts," a synthetic drug. Bath salts also go by the names Ocean Burst, Ivory Wave and Vanilla Sky. In February a legislative commission will convene to approve the bath salts ban so it may become law. In 2011, Metro Police had 72 cases where the six main chemicals of bath salts were being used.

Nevada drug crimes encompass dozens of different laws regulation the possession, manufacturing and sale of narcotics and controlled substances. The vast majority of these crimes are felonies carrying several years in prison. But often a first offense may be dismissed if the defendant completes a Drug Court Rehab program.

Defenses to Nevada drug crimes depend on the specific circumstances of the case. A common defense is that the defendant was unaware that the drugs were there, and that someone else planted them on or near the defendant. Another possible defense is that the police "entrapped" the defendant into violating a drug law, but this defense works only if the defendant wasn't predisposed to committing the drug offense anyway.

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Largest Meth Bust in Nevada History

August 3, 2011

Last month Las Vegas police arrested eight illegal immigrants for allegedly committing the Nevada crime of drug trafficking. Law enforcement seized 212 pounds of drugs valued at nearly six million dollars. It was the biggest methamphetamine bust in the state's history.

The Nevada crime of drug trafficking is when a person knowingly sells, makes, or delivers a large quantity of schedule I or II drugs. Trafficking laws do not apply to schedule III, IV or V drugs. Typical defenses include that the drugs didn't weigh enough to count as trafficking or that the police performed an illegal search and seizure of the drugs.

Penalties for drug trafficking depend on the schedule of drugs and the quantity. For instance trafficking 28 grams or more of a schedule I drug may carry as much as a life sentence. In contrast trafficking less than 200 grams of a schedule II drug may carry as little as one year in prison.

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Las Vegas Prosecutor Charged with Drugs, Conspiracy and Gun Crimes

Yesterday the Clark County D.A. filed charges against a former deputy Clark County district attorney who allegedly bought cocaine in March. He's accused of committing conspiracy, gun crimes and Nevada drug crimes. Prior to the incident this D.D.A. was a drug prosecutor. He resigned in April.

Common Nevada drug crimes include possession, possession with intent to sell, selling, and trafficking. Possession usually carries the least serious penalties, especially for a first offense. Trafficking usually carries the most serious penalties, including prison.

Defenses to Nevada drug crimes depend on the circumstances of the case. A typical defense is entrapment, whereby an undercover cop wrongly entices someone to buy drugs who normally would not have bought the drugs. Another common defense is police misconduct: If the cops performed an illegal search in order to uncover the drugs, the drugs should be tossed out as evidence.

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Nevada D.A. Supports Making Certain Cold-Medicines Prescription Only

January 10, 2011

Certain cold medicines contain ingredients essential to manufacturing methamphetamine. For example Sudafed and Actifed contain meth ingredients ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine. Currently these medicines are available over-the-counter, but patrons can purchase only a limited number.

D.A. Neil Rombardo supports changing Nevada drug laws to require that customers get prescriptions to buy these cold medicines. He explains that because pharmacies aren't linked to a central tracking system, meth makers can go to several different pharmacies to buy enough cold medicine to make meth. The treatment rate for meth addiction in Nevada is three times the average nationally.

Nevada drug laws make it a crime to possess, sale, manufacture or transport illegal drugs as well as prescription drugs (without a valid prescription). The least serious crime is possession for personal use, and a first-time charge can often be dismissed by doing Drug Court. The most serious crime under Nevada drug laws is trafficking, which could carry decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

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Nevada Isn't Expected to Legalize Marijuana Soon Despite "Sin City" Reputation

December 30, 2010

So far the Marijuana Policy Project has tried five times to pass laws to legalize marijuana in Nevada. It's predicted they'll make another attempt in 2012 for laxer Nevada drug crime laws but that it will also fail. Mayor Oscar Goodman opines, "The people are not ready no matter how we are characterized."

Nevada drug crime laws are actually very harsh despite Nevada having legalized gambling and prostitution (in some counties). Straight possession of any drug is usually charged as a felony unless it's for less than an ounce of marijuana. However, first-time possession charges can often be reduced to a misdemeanor or dismissed if the defendant does Drug Court.

Penalties for breaking Nevada drug crime laws become harsher if you sell or intend to sell a drug. The harshest penalties are imposed in trafficking cases, but even then the defendant may avoid prison if they cooperate with police. Nevada law draws no distinction between illegal drugs like cocaine and prescription drugs such as OxyContin that are used illegally.

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Las Vegas Lawyer and Former Addict Dedicated to Helping Others

September 22, 2010

A Las Vegas lawyer who was once arrested on weapons charges and for violating Nevada under the influence of a controlled substance law is now helping others from succumbing to the same mistakes. He is a defense lawyer in Youth Offender Court, a type of rehab program for young addicts that also may require community service and jail. He has been sober for one year and counting.

Nevada under the influence of a controlled substance law makes it illegal for someone to knowingly be under the influence of a drug unless a doctor prescribed the dosage. This offense applies whether or not you are in public. It is a separate offense from DUI, which pertains only to driving under the influence or having an illegal amount of alcohol or drugs in your blood while you're driving.

The penalties for violating Nevada under the influence of a controlled substance law depends on the kind of drugs involved. For schedules I-IV drugs, it's a category E felony carrying 1 to 4 years. But a category V drug would implement only up to one year in jail and maybe $1,000 in fines.

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New Trial Scheduled in Reno Hotel Stabbing Case

March 10, 2010

Last month, a fifty-four year old former chef got a new trial date after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the murder conviction in his first trial over faulty jury instructions. He’s accused of stabbing a man in 1993 in a Circus Circus – Reno hotel room they shared. The accused argued that Nevada self-defense law exonerates him.

The two men reportedly met while on a bus from San Francisco, where they shared cocaine. The fight reportedly started after the accused saw the other man in the room allegedly using his knives to make heroin. The victim was later found in the bathtub with 17 stab wounds.

Nevada self-defense law allows someone in immediate danger of being hurt by someone else to fight back. You’re also allowed to fight back if the aggressor is threatening your family or someone close to you. However, Nevada self-defense law requires that you use no more force than necessary to fend off the attack.

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Recession-Spurred Depression Causes More Youth to Smoke Pot in Nevada

February 3, 2010

The Nevada Education Department reports that an increased number of high school students are depressed and engaging in destructive behavior, including smoking marijuana. Nearly forty percent of the students surveyed said they used pot, which is a significant increase from 2007. Experts surmise that these trends are a result of the recession and the kids’ parents’ stress rubbing off on them.

Marijuana sales law in Nevada makes it a category B felony to sell or grow marijuana in the state. (However, if the amount of marijuana in question is one hundred pounds or more, then trafficking law applies instead of marijuana sales law in Nevada.) The penalties for marijuana sales law in Nevada increases with each successive offense:

For a first offense of selling marijuana in Nevada, the defendant usually receives probation and a suspended sentence, but the judge may order one to six years in Nevada State Prison with an optional fine of up to $20,000. A second offense allows the judge to order two to ten years in prison with an optional fine of up to $20,000. And for a third offense, the defendant faces three to fifteen years in prison with the optional $20,000 fine. These sentences may be increased if the defendant allegedly sold to minors or sold near minors.

Arrest Made in Las Vegas Drug-Related Murder Case

December 17, 2009

Last week twenty-six year old Rene Zambadajimenez was arrested for breaking Nevada murder law by shooting thirty-seven year old Ulises Mendez-Rodriguez near Route 157 and the 95. Reportedly, Zambadajimenez was driving with Mendez-Rodriguez before pulling over, at which point Zambadajimenez allegedly shot him five times with a 12-gauge shotgun. He then fled in the car, and Mendez-Rodriguez died shortly thereafter.

When police later executed a search warrant on Zambadajimenez’s apartment, they found the shotgun and some of Mendez-Rodriguez’s belongings. Zambadajimenez even reportedly admitted to the killing. Homicide Lt. Lew Roberts said the murder was drug related: “It was a fairly typical narcotic-related dope rip-off.”

Nevada murder law divides homicide into first and second degree. First degree murder involves cases where the perpetrator killed with malice aforethought or committed the killing while carrying out another felony. Second degree includes all other kinds of murder. Penalties for breaking Nevada murder law in the first degree include death, life in prison, or fifty years in prison, and the judge may also grant parole after twenty years.

Man Who Allegedly Threatened Boulder City Manager Arrested

November 24, 2009

Gregory Thomas has been arrested and jailed for allegedly leaving a threatening voicemail earlier this month to Boulder City Manager Vicki Mayes. He reportedly said in the message that he’d rape and murder Mayes, kill her husband, and kill anyone who prevented him from attending the November 10 City Council meeting.

After Thomas’s arrest, he reportedly told police that he was frustrated with the city manager after failing to secure affordable housing in Boulder City. He was charged with harassment and two counts of possessing drug paraphernalia in Nevada (NRS 453.566). He was booked in the Henderson Jail on $250,000 bond.

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Honolulu Cop Pleads Not Guilty to Pot Possession

October 16, 2009

Today, the attorney for one of the Honolulu police officers arrested in August for breaking NRS 453.336 (Nevada simple marijuana possession law) pleaded not guilty on behalf of his client. The cop was also charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

NRS 453.336 makes it a crime to possess any quantity of marijuana for personal use. If you’re convicted of possessing one ounce or less, the penalties are relatively lenient for a first and second offense, which are just misdemeanors. A third offense is a gross misdemeanor, and a fourth is a category E felony.

However, if you’re convicted of possessing more than one ounce of pot, NRS 453.336 makes a first offense a category E felony. However, if you’ve never been convicted of drug crimes before, a good lawyer can secure you a suspended sentence and probation.

Woman Charged with Felony DUI Still Missing

October 14, 2009

Patricia Solis, who was charged with breaking Nevada felony DUI law last year, is still at large after bonding out. A bench warrant was issued early this year, though it is believed she may have returned to her home country of Nicaragua.

On November 8th, 2008, Solis allegedly crashed her truck into Rosalyn Gilson’s car while under the influence of drugs. Gilson died instantly. Later tests showed Solis to be high, and a search of her car uncovered bottles of morphine and hydrocodine.

Nevada Felony DUI law covers automobile accidents where a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol causes death or substantial bodily injury to someone else. The penalties for breaking Nevada felony DUI law include two to twenty years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $5,000.

Marijuana Policy Project to Give $10,000 to Anyone Who Proves Alcohol is Safer than Marijuana

September 24, 2009

The Marijuana Policy Project of Nevada, whose mission is to reform the harsh marijuana laws in Nevada, announced today that they will give $10,000 to any state resident who can demonstrate that alcohol is safer than marijuana. Specifically, contestants have to disprove the following three statements using peer-reviewed papers and government studies as proof:

  1. Alcohol is significantly more toxic than marijuana, making death by overdose far more likely with alcohol.

  2. The health effects from long-term alcohol consumption cause tens of thousands of more deaths in the U.S. annually than the health effects from the long-term consumption of marijuana.

  3. Violent crime committed by individuals intoxicated by alcohol is far more prevalent in the U.S. than violent crime committed by individuals intoxicated by marijuana only.

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Nevada Governor to Create Nevada Crime Commission

September 8, 2009

Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons announced Friday that he will be creating a Nevada Crime Commission, which will examine state crime problems and suggest creative ways to fight them. Gibbons explained, “One of the primary purposes of government is to protect citizens from criminals. I plan to create the Nevada Crime Commission to explore new ways to reduce crime in Nevada and find real solutions to ‘current day’ crime problems.”

In its effort to understand and fight crime trends in Nevada, the commission will be able to create its own task forces and seek funding and grants. Some of the specific crime areas the Nevada Crime Commission will target include mortgage fraud, Medicare/Medicaid fraud, internet crime, gang crimes, prescription drug abuse, and immigration crimes in Nevada.

The Nevada Crime Commission will be made up of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, various business and community leaders, activists, and representatives of various crime victims groups. It will also include appropriate federal agencies; for instance, members from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be invited to participate to help combat immigration crimes in Nevada.

Gates Controversy Spurs Race-Police Discussion in Nevada

September 1, 2009

July’s arrest of African-American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., by a Caucasian police officer reinvigorated the debate about whether racial bias influences police behavior. Two weeks ago, several police departments in Nevada held a candid panel discussion at Las Vegas City Hall on the issue.

Although officers conceded that some police harbored a bias, they assured the audience they’re doing everything to counteract it. Furthermore, some drug crime in Nevada statistics that appear to be the result of racial profiling are completely innocent: The fact that more minorities than Caucasians are incarcerated for crack cocaine is simply because it’s a drug crime in Nevada more frequently committed by minorities. (Caucasians, on the other hand, more frequently commit possession of powder cocaine, which carries less severe penalties.)

Other discussions and workshops on the controversy of racial profiling by police officers are being organized by the NAACP. The next one will be sometime in November.