A man convicted on drug trafficking charges is back in federal court after former president Barack Obama commuted his life sentence.
Robert Martinez-Gil, also known as Robert M. Martinez-Gil or “Robert M. Gill” in recent news stories, was relieved of a life sentence by Obama for planning to deal heroin and cocaine in the early 1990s. Obama commuted over 1,700 federal prisoners’ sentences before leaving office, saying it was “the right thing to do” and “we all make mistakes.” The former president wanted to combat “out-of-date laws,” a White House spokesman said in 2015 at the time of Gil’s commutation.
Gil was found guilty of “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin” in 1992, according to the Justice Department.
He worked as a paralegal for a criminal defense law firm in San Antonio, Texas, after his 2015 release. But he again turned to drug trafficking—this time allegedly by selling cocaine only hours after a meeting with a federal probation officer, according to an affidavit.
The Star-Telegram has a colorful account of Gil’s latest encounter with law enforcement on Thursday:
Federal court records showed that hours after he met with a federal probation officer on Thursday, Gill bought 1 kilogram of cocaine, about 2 pounds. He’d been under surveillance since last month after authorities received information that he’d become involved in illegal drugs.
After an exchange in a parking lot where he received a black backpack, a Bexar County sheriff’s deputy attempted to pull him over and he fled at high speed, according to court records.
The documents say he collided with another vehicle and tried to flee again but was stopped by other officers. Cocaine was found in the backpack and he told authorities he planned to sell it, according to the court records.
Now, Gil faces charges up to another 40 years in prison and was “charged with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.”
Recidivism rates for those charged with drug crimes stand at 77 percent, according to a Justice Department study commissioned under former attorney general Eric Holder. While the media uses the euphemism “drug offenders” to paint a sympathetic picture of dealers, there are almost no cases of simple possession in federal courts. Of those incarcerated in federal prison on drug-related charges, 99.5 percent were found guilty of trafficking illicit drugs. Drug trafficking is an inherently violent enterprise “inseparable from violent victimization” and the costs of addiction.
Gil’s heroin charges merit extra attention. Over 47,000 died from drug-overdose deaths in 2014 alone, including 28,647 from opioids and heroin overdoses. The CDC found over 500,000 died from drug overdoses from 2000 to 2014, with heroin-induced deaths tripling in number between 2010 and 2015.
While in office, Obama launched an unprecedented effort to slash drug traffickers’ sentences, many of whom are armed convicts, by using his clemency powers. Using revised sentencing guidelines, the Obama administration also released 30,000 convicts from federal prison.