As another holiday season comes to a close, many people are returning from
vacations to warm and lush tropical environments known for not only their
beaches and warm weather, but also for their abundant supply of drugs
such as marijuana and cocaine.
Most people bring home souvenirs like t-shirts, liquor, or sea shells.
Some people, though, who vacation on the beaches of Jamaica and Mexico
or take a Caribbean cruise get the bright idea to bring home drugs in
their luggage or worse, smuggled inside their body. (Note to self: if you want the drugs so badly that you are forcing them
up a bodily orifice, forget about a criminal defense attorney –
you have a problem and need serious substance abuse counseling.)
WHO PROSECUTES DRUG SMUGGLING OFFENSES
Ports of entry into the United States are controlled by Customs and Border
Protection – a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
This law enforcement agency is well versed and knowledgeable about drug
smuggling and keistering methods. They often refer larger smuggling cases
to the United States Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution.
Unless you have kilos of cocaine or heroin taped to your body – something
which clearly amounts to possession with intent to distribute –
chances are that the federal authorities will pass on the case and have
state prosecutors take over.
In Arizona, this usually means that if it’s not the Arizona Attorney
General’s Office, either the Yuma, Santa Cruz, or Cochise County
Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. From my more than 20
years of experience as a Phoenix criminal defense attorney who handles
drug trafficking cases, I can assure you that none of these agencies look
to offer defendants anything less than severe penalties for drug smuggling offenses.
WHY ARE DRUG SMUGGLING CASES SO EASY FOR PROSECUTORS?
While the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution offers strong protection to
those charged with serious felony charges such as possession of marijuana
for sale and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, the US
Supreme Court has made clear that you have no expectation of privacy when
entering the US via a port of entry. It’s just that simple.
Now, if someone planted drugs on you and you didn’t know they were
there, that’s a whole different story. I imagine that the defense
would be that “On the last night of my trip, someone gave me roofies
and hid a bunch of drugs inside me.” Not that I’ve ever done
anything of the sort, but I have to think that you would feel bloated,
and you will still have to explain how the person would plan to retrieve
the drugs on the other side of the border.
DRUG SMUGGLING IS A BIG DEAL IN ARIZONA
Let’s be real. If you are reading this article, it’s because
you are planning to smuggle drugs or you because you did and have gotten
caught. If it’s the former, don’t do it. It’s not worth
the risk and your colon will thank you later.
If you have been arrested for a drug smuggling offense in Arizona, are
likely facing mandatory prison time and need a criminal defense attorney
who has handled these cases and can give you the best representation possible.
While I’ve taken a light-hearted approach to the situation, drug
smuggling is a very serious matter that can have devastating consequences.
Contact me at (602) 663-9100 for a personal and confidential consultation.
And please, stick to the t-shirts. They are much better memories, even
if they fall apart the first time you wash them.