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Narcotics investigation spreads to 3 states

A narcotics investigation that began in Texas, spread to Oklahoma and Tennessee and lasted for seven months concluded with federal indictments being handed down against six unidentified suspects according to a Sept. 19 press release from the Hardeman County Sheriff's Office. The press release also states that several other suspects were identified during the investigation, which was named 'Operation Bates Motel", but the evidence against them was not strong enough to support conspiracy or engaging In organized criminal activity charges.

Agencies involved in the narcotics investigation include the HCSO, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the 46th Judicial District Attorney's Office, the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Vernon Police Department. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security also became involved when 'Operation Bates Motel" overlapped with a federal investigation into the methamphetamine trafficking activities of the Aryan Brotherhood.

Search warrants executed in Texas and Oklahoma are said to have led to the seizure of about 8.8 pounds of methamphetamine and $6,192 in U.S. currency. A suspect taken into custody in Chillicothe is accused of distributing more than 23 pounds of the drug during the course of the investigation. Police say the street value of the drugs distributed was over $70,000. All six of the indicted suspects have been taken into custody according to media reports.

Individuals accused of drug distribution sometimes feel that they have little chance of avoiding a long custodial sentence when a grand jury hands down an indictment against them. Experienced criminal attorneys could point out that an indictment is far easier for a prosecutor to obtain than a conviction in court. This is because the level of proof for a grand jury is probable cause. In a trial, the bar is set much higher and guilt must be established beyond any reasonable doubt.

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