A powerful tool used by the authorities
Conspiracy, when two or more people act in concert to commit a greater offense, is one of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in U.S. federal court related to drug trafficking offenses.
It serves as an extremely powerful tool for law enforcement as it can be used to prosecute all members of a criminal organization involved any criminal offense, such as drug trafficking. Not only does the law give prosecutors the ability to charge all members of a criminal organization with a crime, it also holds each one accountable as if they had committed the entire offense themselves, regardless of their level of involvement.
Though prosecutors are ultimately interested going after in the main players in an organization and those that supply them, they will use the charge of conspiracy to put pressure on lower-level members to compel cooperation.
A low-level member of a criminal organization, realizing that he or she can go to prison for the same amount of time as his or her co-conspirators, will most often turn on them and provide law enforcement with valuable evidence that can successfully prosecute higher level members.
Given that a large part of law enforcement, in particular counter-narcotics enforcement, is based on intelligence obtained from cooperating sources, prosecutors are also able to use conspiracy charges to coerce higher-level members to provide information and evidence against their partners and the people who supply them and help them operate, such as those in finance roles who assist in laundering money.
While it may be difficult to prove the full extent of a higher-level member's involvement in a very complex system, the crime of conspiracy can be used against criminal organizations that may otherwise prove difficult to prosecute. It is far easier to prove that a person has participated in a criminal activity than to what extent, and equally effective.
The law behind conspiracy is complex and the charge is itself is very serious. Due to the nature of the charge, a defendant may be responsible for the acts of his or her co-conspirators and, as such, it is important to be able to protect oneself from co-conspirators who may turn on other members.
Consulting a lawyer is the best way to understand conspiracy charges and the consequences.