Drug Crime

The Bronx District Attorney’s Office approaches drug crime with a combination of careful screening and vigorous prosecution of cases, which contributes to the high proportion of convicted drug offenders who receive state prison sentences. In addition to being tough on for-profit sellers, the Office offers many Bronx defendants drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration. In 2012, more than 600 drug-involved defendants were diverted to treatment. Drug arrests have decreased in recent years, resulting in a reduction in both the number of felony drug prosecutions and the percentage of the caseload that these cases comprise. In 1996 drug cases accounted for more than 65% of the Office’s felony-level defendants. In 2012, just 35% of Bronx felony defendants were prosecuted on drug charges. Nevertheless, drug crime is still a very serious problem in the Bronx.

 

Case: Narcotics Arrest Ends Alternative to Incarceration

On August 11, 2012, a narcotics detective observed 38-year-old Edgar Sanabria inside a vehicle exchanging small objects for money with another person. After the transaction, Sanabria drove away traveling about 60 mph in a 30 mph zone. He drove through stop signs and red lights; he only came to a stop when his vehicle was boxed in by traffic. As police approached the vehicle, Sanabria handed a plastic bag to his wife, who was sitting beside him in the front passenger seat. Sanabria’s two-year-old and two-month-old children were present in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle.

Police seized the plastic bag from Sanabria’s wife. The bag contained crackcocaine. Sanabria also had 83 glassine envelopes of heroin in his pocket.

At the time of his arrest, Sanabria was participating in a drug treatment program through judicial diversion. During a traffic stop on September 25, 2010, Sanabria was found in possession of 27 small bags of marijuana, 11 ecstasy pills, three stacks of heroin, and 28 bags of crack-cocaine as well as a substantial amount of money in cash. Sanabria pleaded guilty on October 27, 2011, to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. He was sentenced to a drug treatment program as an alternative to incarceration. His conviction would have been reduced to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of the treatment program. However, his 2012 narcotics arrest ended his participation in the outpatient treatment program.

Sanabria pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree with intent to sell and endangering the welfare of a child on January 17, 2013. He was sentenced to two years in prison on this conviction. In addition, he was sentenced concurrently to two years as a jail alternative for violating the terms of his placement in a drug treatment program on the 2010 judicial diversion case.

Drug Treatment Alternative To Prison (DTAP)

Bronx prosecutors have had substantial success in placing drug offenders in treatment programs. Between 1993 and 2012, more than 16,000 Bronx defendants were placed in drug treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration. While the Office’s initial experiment with alternative-to-incarceration (ATI) drug treatment focused on first-time offenders, treatment is now also being offered to some second felony offenders. In late 1995, through the TASC program, this Office began placing offenders with prior non-violent felony convictions in ATI programs. We first received DTAP funding in 1998. From 1998 through 2012, the Office placed 3,817 defendants in drug treatment through DTAP. The DTAP model involves: (1) identification of drug-involved offenders; (2) assessment of the offender’s drug and alcohol treatment needs; (3) referral to appropriate treatment; and (4) continuous case management. Bronx participants in the DTAP program are required to plead guilty to a class B felony. If they complete the program, their felony plea is set aside, and they are permitted to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. However, those who withdraw or fail to complete the program satisfactorily receive a sentence of three years in prison and two years post-release supervision.

*Note: Drug Treatment Alternatives to Prison (DTAP) is for predicate felony (second and later) offenders. Extended Willard Drug Treatment is also for predicate felony offenders and is operated ny the New York State Department of Correctional Services in conjunction with the Division of Parole. "Other Residential" includes first-time offenders placed in residential programs. "Other" includes residential and outpatient programs for first-time and predicate defendants.

 


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