A 35-year-old woman was recently arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers when she allegedly tried to smuggle drugs from Mexico by wrapping 2 pounds of cocaine around her 12-year-old daughter’s waist.
Drug Smuggling Results in Border Arrest of Woman
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested the woman and her three children as they attempted to enter the U.S. at Arizona’s San Luis Port of Entry. During a routine stop at the border, the woman and her three children were referred to an additional search of their Nissan hatchback.
A CBP canine alerted the officers to the 12-year-old. They discovered more than 2 pounds of cocaine, worth almost $24,000, wrapped around her torso.
Border Patrol officers immediately seized the woman’s vehicle, as well as the drugs.
The case has been turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Smuggling Charges and Border Arrests
Many people do not realize how limited their rights are when entering the United States. Some smuggling, trafficking and illegal importation charges arise from involvement in real criminal enterprises. Others impact people who did not know they were breaking the law or had no idea of the extent of the searches U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents perform. Regardless of the circumstances, it is crucial to seek experienced legal counsel to mitigate the impact of criminal charges related to smuggling or border arrests.
Our Los Angeles defense attorneys have substantial experience representing people coping with border arrests and smuggling charges. The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman intervenes on behalf of citizens and visitors arrested at LAX and other airports in California, people arrested at or near the Port of Los Angeles or the Port of Long Beach, and people charged with:
- Crossing the Mexican border into California with drugs, weapons, large amounts of cash, jewelry or gemstones, or other goods that may have been legally obtained but were not properly declared
- Attempting to smuggle illegal or forbidden items into prison, including drugs or weapons
- Illegal importation of plant or animal products, often without intent to commit a crime
- Crimes allegedly committed on a cruise ship (such as sexual assault, drug crimes or theft) leading to arrest and detention on board or when coming into harbor
- Possession of child pornography, or on suspicion of another serious sex offense such as organizing a trip to engage in sex with a minor
- Human trafficking, including charges of aiding and abetting this crime
Strong Experience Defending People Facing Mexican Border Arrests or Airport Detainment
It would be incredibly naive to believe that “profiling” of men traveling alone, individuals of certain races and nationalities, and people coming from certain foreign destinations does not occur at our points of entry. Whatever the circumstances of your arrest, however, failing to promptly contact an attorney focused on defending your rights could be a life-altering mistake.
The less you say to federal agents or police in connection with a drug arrest at the Los Angeles airport or any smuggling crime, the better. Many such officials are experts in getting what they need for a conviction while reassuring you that they will ultimately let you go if you talk.
You always have the right to remain silent, but at the same time, if you don’t answer questions to establish your citizenship, officials may decide to deny you entry into the country. They can also detain you for additional searches and/or questioning. Agents are at liberty to search any person, the inside of any vehicle, and all passenger belongings and are not required to have a warrant to do so. That means if they have any suspicion of wrongdoing they do not need a warrant or your consent to question you or search the person, vehicle, or any belongings.
At the same time, CBP’s policy requires that searches be “conducted in a manner that is safe, secure, humane, dignified and professional.” Agents at ports of entry:
- Cannot use excessive force.
- Cannot conduct more intrusive searches such as strip searches or repeated detentions unless they have “reasonable suspicion” of an immigration violation or crime.
- Should not damage personal property during an inspection.
If You Are Detained
If you are detained, you have the right to remain silent and the right to speak to an attorney. You will want to do so immediately. If you are a citizen of another country, you also have the right to speak with your consulate.
Additionally, you may be asked where you were born, how you entered the U.S. or how long you’ve been here. You do not need to answer those questions as your responses may be used to detain and deport you. Do not sign anything without first talking to a lawyer. If you are not a U.S. citizen, signing certain documents may mean you are giving up your opportunity to try to stay in the country.
Contact Daniel R. Perlman
At your first opportunity, contact us at 213-514-8324, at 213-514-8324 or by e-mail and get proven border arrest and smuggling defense lawyer Daniel R. Perlman involved in your case.