Houston, Texas (Vocus/PRWEB) February 18, 2011
As law enforcement agencies have increased efforts to reduce the amount of drug smuggling from Mexico to Texas, drug traffickers are attempting to employ new methods of bringing drugs across the border. Drug trafficking organizations have started using unlikely people to transport the drugs, medieval methods and have gone underground to bring drugs to the U.S. Matt Horak, a Houston-based criminal defense attorney weighs in on these new methods, and the punishments for these offenses.
In January 2011, police officers in La Joya, Texas, stopped an SUV that was carrying small bundles of Marijuana in a diaper bag. As reported by news channel, Channel 5 KRGV, the officers believed the driver and passenger were traveling from Rio Grande City in Mexico to Houston. The police further stated that since drug traffickers, or “mules,” are caught crossing the border with greater frequency, the drug trafficking organizations are choosing to smuggle drugs across the Texas border in smaller amounts.
According to Matt Horak, Houston criminal defense attorney, “The drug cartels are likely targeting regular people crossing the border, who are often inexperienced with drug smuggling, to carry these small bundles to Texas.” A CNN article recently reported drug cartels are even using children as young as fourteen to smuggle drugs across the border.
"Because there is such a high demand for black market marijuana in the United States, people are absolutely desperate to get it over the border. This often results in violence, uses up valuable border security resources, and puts billions of dollars into the cartels. These harmful and devastating ramifications are a direct result of marijuana prohibition in the United States. The people being recruited by the drug trafficking organizations probably think it’s such a small amount they won’t really be punished if they get caught. However, crossing the border with drugs is a federal offense. It can result in very harsh punishments and have a lasting effect on the rest of your life,” says Texas marijuana trafficking lawyer, Matt Horak.
Although the Mexican and United States drug war has heated up exponentially since Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, took office in December 2006, the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) shows that Mexico still manufactures and transports marijuana (also known as pot, weed or cannabis), heroin and methamphetamines (“meth” or "crank") to the United Sates. These are three of the four most popularly used drugs in the U.S. The fourth drug, cocaine (“blow” or “coke”), is produced in South America, but is also brought to the United States through Mexican drug smugglers.
Drug cartels have also utilized other methods besides mules to get their drugs across the Mexican/United States border. ABC World News recently reported Mexican drug cartels were using catapults to launch marijuana over the Arizona border. Additionally, the DEA discovered a 1,800 foot underground tunnel linking warehouses in Mexico and California last November. These new techniques used to cross the border have led to massive drug acquisitions by U.S. and Mexican officials valued in millions of dollars.
Even more chilling, the New York Times reports United States customs agents are sometimes bribed by Mexican drug trafficking organizations to allow trucks to carry drugs across the border between Texas and Mexico. These customs agents are often paid thousands of dollars to allow drug-carrying vehicles to pass through. The drug cartels may even be targeting people to apply for jobs with governmental agencies on the border in order to further the smuggling efforts of the drug trafficking organizations.
“People who assist drug cartels in any type of trafficking should know the sentences can be very severe if convicted,” advises Houston drug lawyer Matt Horak, “If you are charged with drug smuggling in Texas, punishment varies for the type of drug, the amount of the drug, if death or serious body injury results from the trafficking, and if the alleged offender has previously been convicted,” Horak further states.
According to the DEA, penalties for federal offenses related to drug trafficking are:
Heroin – a first offense can lead to:
5 to 40 years in prison if the amount of heroin is 100 to 999 grams mixed, or if death or serious injury occurs, the prison sentence increases to 20 years to life in prison. Additionally, offenders can face a fine up to $2,000,000 for an individual, and a fine up to $5,000,000 if not an individual. Prison sentences and fines increase if the amount is greater, and penalties for two or more drug offenses greatly increase.
Cocaine – a first offense can result in:
5 to 40 years in prison if the amount is 500 to 4999 grams mixed, but if death or serious injury occurs, the sentence increases to 20 years to life in prison. Additionally, individual offenders can face a fine up to $2,000,000, and if not an individual, then up to $5,000,000. Prison sentences and fines increase if the amount is greater, and penalties for two or more drug offenses greatly increase.
Methamphetamines – a first offense can lead to:
5 to 40 years in prison if the amount is 5 to 49 grams pure or 50 to 499 grams mixed, but if death or serious injury occurs, the sentence increases to 20 years to life in prison.
Additionally, offenders can face a fine up to $2,000,000 for an individual, and a fine up to $5,000,000 if not an individual. Prison sentences and fines increase if the amount is greater, and penalties for two or more drug offenses greatly increase.
Marijuana – a first offense can result in:
Anywhere from less than 5 years in prison to life in prison, depending on the amount trafficked, and if death or serious injury is involved. Plus, individual offenders can face a fine up to $4,000,000, depending on the amount trafficked, and a fine up to $10,000,000 if not an individual. Penalties for second offenses only increase.
Matt Horak, Houston drug trafficking defense attorney, warns, “If you have been arrested for smuggling drugs, it is a federal offense, and carries mandatory jail time and hefty fines if convicted. It is imperative to hire a lawyer who is experienced in criminal defense.”
Matt Horak, Attorney at Law, represents those accused of federal drug trafficking offenses in Houston, Harris County, Texas and surrounding areas.
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