An indictment serves as the end of one aspect of an investigation and the commencement of another. When Colorado authorities believe they have enough evidence to charge an individual in federal court, they will present this information to a prosecutor who will then present the evidence to a grand jury. However, even if an indictment on drug crimes or other charges is issued, this is a long ways away from prosecutors being able to secure a conviction against those defendants who they claim are responsible.
Colorado authorities have claimed that seven individuals named in a recent indictment were involved in a large scale drug operation that had ties to the Mexican Drug Cartel. In total, police have alleged that the group was responsible for smuggling over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana into the country. Police said that the group transported the drugs in gas tanks of cars and large farm machinery.
One individual was found in New Mexico and was taken into custody. It is unclear whether the other six have been located at this time. An initial court date for the individuals has also not been released.
The expansiveness of the drug crimes alleged to have been committed in Colorado can, if a conviction is secured, bring with them serious penalties. However, an indictment is not a conviction, merely a finding that there is enough evidence to support issuing a charge. If questions arise as to the validity of the evidence then there may be a reasonable chance that a judge or jury would not support a guilty finding against some or all of the defendants.
Source: timesunion.com, Federal arrests in Colorado drug smuggling case, No author, Sept. 11, 2013