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Texas Man Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison for Selling Marijuana

Mandatory-minimum sentences mark the return of the War on Drugs.

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A Texas man has been sentenced to more than 24 years in prison for selling marijuana, thanks to federal mandatory-minimum sentencing laws.

David Lopez was arrested after attempting to hire a DEA informant and an undercover cop to transport marijuana for him. According to federal prosecutors, Lopez had been shipping marijuana from El Paso to various destinations around the country since 2001, and was connected to a series of drug busts in which cops seized over 3,300 kilos of pot.

On June 2nd, Lopez was sentenced to 293 months in federal prison after being convicted on drug conspiracy and possession charges. The extreme length of the sentence was due in part to federal rules requiring mandatory-minimum sentences for drug conspiracy charges. Prosecutors also recommended additional time because Lopez had been convicted of felony marijuana possession in 1995. If Lopez serves his full sentence, he will be 78 years old when he is released.

The case began under the Obama administration, which had worked to lessen sentences for nonviolent drug offenders like Lopez. Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed that policy, instructing the Department of Justice to seek mandatory minimums for drug offenders. Thousands of Americans are being jailed every year on federal drug charges. In 2015, the U.S. Sentencing Commission reported 3,384 marijuana trafficking cases, accounting for around 17% of all federal drug offenders.

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