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Too much evidence - case dismissed

Most of the time prosecutors are worried that they don't have enough evidence to convict. An alleged fugitive drug dealer had so much evidence stacked up against him that federal prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss the case because they can't afford to store it any more. The judge obliged.

Dr. Armando Angulo, a Miami physician, was indicted five years ago for allegedly running a multi-million dollar "pill mill" scheme in which people were able to get prescription drugs without ever being seen by a doctor. Angula, a Panamanian citizen, fled to Panama in 2004 and the government there says it will not extradite him. Meanwhile, federal investigators continued to collect evidence, both electronic and printed. The collection got so large that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was using 5 percent of its worldwide data storage capacity for just this one case. And that does not include the 400,000 paper documents, dozens of computers and computer servers, and other items that stacked up in evidence lockers.

It seems that the DEA finally came to the conclusion that it wasn't going to get its man from the Panamanians and there are other uses for their data servers. Officials petitioned a federal judge in Iowa to dismiss the case and she did, with prejudice, meaning the federal drug charges may not be refilled if Angulo turns up in the U.S. again. He still is a wanted man, however, and faces additional prosecution for Medicaid fraud and state narcotics charges.

Investigators followed a trail that began in a small pharmacy in Dubuque, Iowa and ultimately wound up at two huge Internet pharmacies that sold over 30 million pills to consumers. Their thoroughness may have been their undoing. Even though the evidence in the case took up only two terabytes of data - two terabyte disk drives for home computers are available for about $100 - it was too much for the DEA's apparently out-of-date computer storage system to handle.

Source: The Associated Press, "Drug charges dropped because of too much evidence," Ryan J. Foley, Aug. 15, 2012

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