Last month, officers from the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency seized approximately 857 pounds of marijuana that was reportedly hidden inside of a passenger bus traveling across the Bridge of the Americas from Mexico. The drugs were discovered at the El Paso port of entry after a Border Patrol officer singled out the motor coach for a thorough examination. The officer reported that he became suspicious when he learned the bus driver was the only passenger on board the vehicle. Additionally, a drug sniffing canine r alerted the officer to the presence of drugs on the bus. After that, an x-ray of the motor coach allegedly showed non-factory compartments installed in the 1993 Dina bus.
U.S. Customs Border Patrol(CBP) officers reportedly found approximately 754 bundles containing about 857 pounds of marijuana in the front wheel well of the motor coach. According to Hector Mancha, Director of the CBP’s El Paso Office, many layers of border enforcement assisted in the marijuana seizure. Although the drugs were seized, no arrest was made at the time of the discovery. The incident, however, is currently under investigation. (In other words, they are trying to find out the source of the drugs. Good luck with that, since its probably Cartel, )
That such an amount is a bragging offense is an indictment of U.S. drug enforcement policy. While hundreds of thousands of pounds of marijuana are smuggled into this country each year, it’s been my experience that the overwhelming amount of border seizures result in amounts of less than 4 ounces.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution allows a police or other law enforcement officer to detain someone who the officer reasonably suspects of a crime for investigative purposes. Although in this case the CBP found a relatively large quantity of drugs being smuggled, too often CBP officers use this power to search and arrest otherwise law-abiding citizens who are then charged with possession of negligible amounts of drugs. Should CBP officers be so focused on drug seizures that they drag countless citizens into an already busy court system? If you were charged with a federal drug crime after a CBP officer or other law enforcement official searched your vehicle in the State of Texas, you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you protect your rights.
This kind of border stop gives birth to the argument that our nation should retool its national drug policy. Based on my experience, few people would risk the consequences of smuggling marijuana across the border from Mexico if it were legal to grow and sell in this country. Even if marijuana was legalized on a conditional basis, a large number of drug smuggling operations would quickly disappear.
Such changes are highly unlikely in today’s political climate, however, and millions of dollars will continue to be wasted on Customs and Border Patrol monitoring of marijuana smugglers. Americans who are otherwise law-abiding and contributing citizens will continue to be subjected to searches by bored Border Patrol agents and Texas Highway Patrol troopers who seize small amounts of marijuana and other illegal drugs in an historically futile “war on drugs.”
I saw our nation’s drug policy summed up in one short sentence on a small sign taped to the wall in a Texas DPS troopers headquarters in Sonora, Texas: “Fighting the Nation’s War on Drugs, One Joint at a Time.”
If you were accused of committing a federal drug crime in the State of Texas, you should contact an experienced Snyder criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Fourth Circuit Upholds Sentence in Firearms Case Despite Misstatements of Mandatory Minimum by Prosecutor and Judge at Sentencing – U.S. v. Davis, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, August 10, 2012
Investigators Increasingly Request Cell Phone User Data in Texas and Throughout the Nation, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, July 30, 2012
CBP Officers Discover 857 Pounds of Marijuana Hidden in Bus, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Press Release dated July 16, 2012
Photo credit: Gergerger7, Stock.xchng