The Georgia countryside is sprinkled with abandoned buildings that are almost continuously vacant. These structures, known colloquially as “trap houses,” make fruitful shelters for transactions involving illicit drugs. A recent arrest in Elko demonstrates how these buildings can be exploited by individuals who use them to meet with their customers and consummate illicit transactions.
According to news reports, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation received a high volume of tips from neighbors about suspicious activity at a vacant farmstead in the southern area of Houston County. Working with the county sheriff’s department, GBI agents conducted extensive surveillance of the property. The surveillance led to a search of the vacant buildings, where police said they found a number of people living on the farm. News reports did not indicate that law enforcement had a search warrant.
The arrest and criminal charges
Seven individuals were arrested after the search was completed and have been charged with various weapon- and drug-related crimes including possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell.
Under Georgia law, a person found in possession of more than a set amount of an illegal drug is assumed to be intending to sell the drug, and therefore can be charged with drug trafficking crimes. These charges carry much more serious penalties than typical possession charges.
Providing an effective defense
Each of the defendants in this case is entitled to a criminal defense, which includes the right to be represented by an independent attorney. While the cases may appear to be very similar if not identical, each case may have distinguishing characteristics that could require different strategies and trial tactics.