Robbing Empty Stash Houses Can Still Lead to a Federal Drug Crime Conviction

Rispoli & Borneo P.C.

 Criminal Lawyer

For some, the opportunity to rob a relatively lightly guarded drug stash house can seem impossible to pass up. With a good plan in place, a well-executed raid on a drug house can net large quantities of drugs for resale on the streets or to another distributor. Except, increasingly, this anticipated profit is not realized because the alleged stash house is empty and the drugs non-existent. The only thing real about the situation in which the would-be drug robbers find themselves, after what turns out to be a law enforcement drug sting, is the lengthy federal prison terms for an assortment of federal drug charges.

Drug Stash House Sting Operations

In highly successful stash house sting operations, agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrest individuals who have been led to believe that certain stash houses are easy targets for robberies. In the sting operation, an undercover agent or a government informer tells a targeted individual that a certain drug stash house is stocked with a certain amount of drugs just waiting to be taken. The individual is also encouraged to bring weapons because the house is also likely guarded. However, the houses are empty, and when the individual and any other accomplices he may have recruited try to rob the house arrive, ATF officers descend upon them and arrest them for the attempted robbery, and other federal drug charges.

Federal law enforcement officials routinely use deception in setting up operations to catch offenders; the use of sting operations is part of this deception. As with other law enforcement sting operations, the use of stash houses has been criticized for possible racial targeting, and also because these operations seem to entrap defendants, who may not otherwise commit the offense. Defendants have also challenged the sting operations as outrageous government conduct, which goes against the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, federal courts require the methods used by the law enforcement officials to include physical violence against the defendant, or coercion to commit the crime, in order to find government behavior outrageous.

Note that a defense of entrapment is distinct from a defense of outrageous government conduct, and therefore, even though stash house sting operations may not be considered outrageous in a case, depending on the facts of a case, an entrapment defense may still apply. An entrapment defense generally applies if the defendant was not predisposed to commit the crime; that is, if the plan and intent to commit the crime did not originate with the defendant. Your defense attorney can explain if an entrapment defense is applicable in your situation after a review of your case.

Contact a Defense Crimes Attorney

If you are arrested for a federal drug crime, either as a principal actor or as an accomplice, following a stash house sting operation, you need an experienced defense attorney to fight the charges. Contact a law firm to speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Arlington, VA experienced in defending both state and federal drug charges for a consultation on your case.



Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into criminal law and drug crimes.