Criminal Enterprise and Drug-Related Death Penalty Cases

A Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE) is a United States Federal Statute that is also commonly known as the “Kingpin Act” or “Kingpin Statute” codified as 21 U.S.C. §848.  The CCE Statute targets large-scale Drug Traffickers and Drug Trafficking Organizations which are responsible for long-term and elaborate Drug Trafficking Conspiracies. 

A person is engaged in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise if –

1) A offender commits or conspires to commit a continuing series of Federal Drug-Related felony violations under Title 215; and

2) When such acts are taken in concert with Five (5) or more persons; and

3) The offender occupies a position as an organizer, manager, or supervisor (or any position of management) of the continuing operation; and

4) The offender obtained substantial income or resources from the drug violations.

The Penalties for conviction of Continuing Criminal Enterprise comprise the following:

a) Any person who engages in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 20 years and which may be up to life imprisonment

b) Any person with one or more prior Federal Drug Convictions shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 30 years and which may be up to life imprisonment

c) Any person who engages in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise (under the so-called “Super Kingpin” provision) shall be imprisoned for life if such person is the principal administrator, organizer, or leader of the enterprise or is one of several such principal administrators, organizers, or leaders; and

d) The violation involved at least 300 times the quantity of a controlled substance (i.e., 300 times a quantity of controlled substance that triggers a minimum mandatory 5 years of imprisonment for Possession with Intent to Distribute) described in subsection 841(b)(1)(B) of Title 21; or

e) The enterprise, or any other enterprise in which the defendant was the principal or one of several principal administrators, organizers, or leaders, received $10 million dollars in gross receipts during any twelve-month period of its existence for the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a substance described in section 841(b)(1)(B) of Title 21

DEATH PENALTY for conviction of Continuing Criminal Enterprise includes the following:

a) Any person engaging in or working in furtherance of a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, or any person engaging in an offense punishable under section 841(b)(1)(A) or section 960(b)(1) of Title 21 who intentionally kills or counsels, commands, induces, procures, or causes the intentional killing of an individual and such killing results, shall be sentenced to any term of imprisonment, which shall not be less than 20 years, and which may be up to life imprisonment, or may be sentenced to death;

Other Federal Drug-Related DEATH PENALTY Statutes:

  • 18 USC 36 Murder committed during a drug-related shooting into a group of 2 or more persons
  • 18 USC 924 Murder committed by the Use of a Firearm during crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime
  • 18 USC 1512 Murder with Intent of preventing testimony by a witness, victim, or informant
  • 18 USC 1513 Retaliatory Murder of a witness, victim, or informant
  • 18 USC 1959 Murder in furtherance of Racketeering Activity
  • 21 USC 848(e) Murder related to a Continuing Criminal Enterprise or Drug Trafficking Offense
  • Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA) of 1994 Attempting, authorizing or advising the killing of any officer, juror, or witness in cases involving a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, regardless of whether such killing actually occurs

An example of the experience in Drug Related Murders and Continuing Criminal Enterprises, Special Agent Kendal Johnson (in 2004), as the lead Case Agent, conducted a large complex Wiretap Investigation in New Mexico that targeted a well-known and infamously violent street gang involved in a large number of drug-related homicides.  The Investigation pursued all members of the notorious street gang and within several months of the operation, all members of the street gang (with the exception of a few members that were already incarcerated on unrelated charges) were arrested based on Federal Drug Trafficking Charges and 4 members of the top leadership were also charged with Murder in Furtherance of a Drug-Related Crime, Capital Murder, and Conspiracy to Commit Murder (based on 4 drug-related homicides) and the leader of the street gang was further charged with operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE).  Notably, the 4 members of the top leadership were charged as Death Penalty eligible but all 4 Defendants pleaded guilty to the Drug-related Murders and were sentenced to Life Imprisonment.

As a Drug Trafficking Expert, Kendal Johnson, since 2010, has been privately retained in numerous Continuing Criminal Enterprise cases involving International Importation and Distribution (or involving Domestic Distribution) of Cocaine, Marijuana, Methamphetamine, and Heroin in New Mexico and other States in which the leader of the Drug Trafficking Organization was charged under the CCE Statute – 21 U.S.C. §848.

5 Specifically, violations of Title 21, Chapter 13, Subchapters I or Subchapter II.