There is an unprecedented number of people who are falling for fake ads to “make money as a driver” and unknowingly engaging in federal drug smuggling across the U.S. – Mexico border. These ads are predominantly seen on Facebook and Snapchat. Remember, if the money seems too good to be true, it is!! Those who fall for these ads end up becoming “blind drug mules” and often face federal criminal drug smuggling charges that carry a federal sentence of at least 10 years of prison. Here is how the drug smuggling scam works:
- The drug smugglers have their people place ads on social media platforms that advertise an opportunity to make easy money being a driver;
- When a person answers the ad, they are given vague information and told they are either driving currency across the border or other items that are actually packed with large amounts of illegal drugs, usually methamphetamine. These items can be anything ranging from a locked briefcase, hollow water fountains, or other large items that can be altered to stuff large quantities of drugs;
- The new recruit driver is told where to meet a specific person down in Mexico, usually at a shopping center or even a house where the fake product stuffed with drugs is housed;
- At some point during the meet up to obtain the “items” being transported across the border, a GPS tracker is unknowingly attached to the driver’s car so the drug smugglers can track the person;
- The driver is given vague information as to where they are driving the “items” to into the United States;
- The driver is promised to be paid anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars when they reach the destination with the “items.”
Unfortunately, Border Patrol has a system in place that helps catch federal drug smuggling across the border. With the use of this technology, the driver is asked questions at the primary inspection point and then sent to secondary inspection. While at secondary inspection, the drug-sniffing dog is brought out to walk around the car and watched closely to see if he will “alert” to any part of the car that may contain the drugs. Once the dog alerts, the driver is taken into the Border Patrol offices and interrogated about their trip and the details leading up to their attempted border crossing.
Many of the drivers are arrested and charged with federal drug statutes including 21 USC §841. Federal drug smuggling charges are serious, and the amount of federal prison time the driver will face is directly related to the amount of drugs found in the car. Most people in this situation are facing a mandatory federal prison term of 10 years! In recent times, there is a large majority of very young adults falling for these ads, most of which are only 18 or 19 years old. Considering a federal felony conviction cannot be expunged, these young adults’ lives will be tarnished for the rest of their lives if they do not beat the charges.
Defenses to Drug Smuggling Charges
There is hope for anyone who gets caught up in drug trafficking charges. These charges can be beaten with the help of a skilled federal defense attorney. The federal prosecutor has the burden to prove the driver knew about the drugs in the car. This can be by a direct admission (if the person told Border Patrol they knew they were transporting drugs) or by circumstantial evidence. This circumstantial evidence is usually obtained from the driver’s cell phone. When a person is arrested at the border for drug trafficking, the feds will confiscate the person’s phone obtain permission or a search warrant to view ALL the contents on the phone, and then analyze those contents to determine if they can argue to a jury that the driver knew what they were doing. If the driver was duped and there is no evidence they knew or should’ve known they were transporting drugs, they have a valid and legitimate defense to present to the jury.
Get Help from a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has fallen for the scenario described above and is fighting federal drug smuggling charges, Federal Criminal Attorney Karren Kenney and her team at Kenney Legal Defense can help fight the charges and present the best defense. Call for a free fee quote to (855) 505-5588.