In April, a 40-year-old Texas man was ordered to serve 70 months in a federal prison for his role in smuggling a large quantity of marijuana last fall. Robert Lee Cloyd of Dublin was arrested at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Jim Hogg County on September 2, 2011. Mr. Cloyd pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to possession of more than 2,000 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute on January 26, 2012.
According to Special Agent Javier F. Peña of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Mr. Cloyd was driving a Mack truck pulling a trailer that held over 2,000 kilograms of marijuana when he was stopped by the Border Patrol for an immigration inspection. While stopped, a trained canine alerted agents to the presence of contraband in the trailer. Additionally, although Mr. Cloyd stated he was hauling a commodity for a third-party, he did not have a receipt or bill of ladling for his load as is required on Texas roadways. Mr. Cloyd was also reportedly unable to tell Border Patrol agents the weight of the load he was hauling. Because of the combination of paperwork issues and alleged canine signals, Border Patrol agents searched the trailer and subsequently found 2,407.5 kilograms of marijuana buried under farm silage. Following the marijuana discovery, DEA agents obtained a warrant to search Mr. Cloyd’s Smartphone. The search revealed that Mr. Cloyd sent several text messages regarding the drug transport in the 24 hour period preceding his arrest.
On April 9th, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison sentenced Mr. Cloyd to four years of supervised release following his 70-month prison term. Mr. Cloyd is currently out on bond pending arrangements to voluntarily surrender to a not yet designated U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides all criminal suspects with the right to counsel regardless of their financial means. It is unclear in this case whether Mr. Cloyd hired an attorney or had one appointed to him. Normally, a criminal defense attorney will attempt to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors in any drug case. Additionally, article 5(k)1 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allows the prescribed federal sentencing guidelines to be departed from in return for a defendant’s cooperation in cases like this.
Any criminal defense lawyer will tell you that Texas is not somewhere you want to be caught using, selling, or transporting marijuana. Although Mr. Cloyd was carrying a great deal of marijuana, this is not usually the case and searches and seizures at border stops have become all too commonplace. In Texas, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor charge that can carry a fine of up to $2,000 and potentially land a defendant in jail for up to 180 days. Merely possessing an item a law enforcement officer has deemed marijuana paraphernalia is a Class C misdemeanor for which a defendant may be fined up to $500. If you were searched at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Texas and charged with possession of marijuana or another drug, you should contact a knowledgeable Texas criminal law attorney as soon as possible.
Texas Places Third in Number of Exonerations Over the Past Two Decades, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, May 29, 2012
Dublin, Texas Man Given Federal Prison Sentence for Marijuana Distribution, United States Drug Enforcement Agency News Release dated April 9, 2012
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