Drug smuggling has been a part of American culture for a long time. Drug use took off in the late 1960s when middle class Americans changed their perspective on drug use, taking it from taboo to fashionable. Drugs became an appendage of social rebellion and protest during an era of political unrest. Over time, government pushed back against the drug culture, and as a result, it passed laws such as the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in 1970. The Act included the Controlled Substances Act which set forth five categories or schedules for regulating drugs based on their medicinal value and potential for addiction.

Shortly thereafter, in 1971, President Nixon declared a war on drugs, citing drug abuse as “public enemy number one in the United States.” As a result of the war on drugs, the United States has experienced endless pressure from drug cartels and smugglers across the Mexican-U.S. border, between Florida and the Americas, and the Canadian-U.S. border. This reality has changed little since the war on drugs was declared over forty years ago.

The Basic Law

The Federal government has jurisdiction over the importation of drugs across the country’s border. Federal drug statutes pertaining to drug smuggling across the border include the following provisions:

Factors that will affect the prosecution of a drug smuggling case are:

  • criminal history,

  • the type of drugs smuggled,

  • the amount of drugs smuggled,

  • if anyone died as a result of the use of the drugs smuggled,

  • the facts of the case generally.

One thing is certain: if you are arrested for drug smuggling, the federal government will aggressively prosecute you. Punishment can range from ten years to life for offenses involving at least:

  • one kilogram of heroin,

  • five kilograms of cocaine,

  • 1,000 kilograms of marijuana or 1,000 plants, or

  • 50 grams of actual methamphetamine.

With smaller amounts of drugs seized, sentences are reduced accordingly. In addition to prison time, the possibility of a $20,000,000 fine takes the seriousness of drug smuggling to an exponentially risky level.

In the News

A recent news piece makes an example of the risks of smuggling drugs and being successfully prosecuted. Allan Peters of Malone, New York, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for 14 years for distributing more than a ton of marijuana smuggled from Canada into the U.S. through the Mohawk Indian reservation. Prosecutors stated that Peters smuggled thousands of pounds of marijuana in hockey bags between 2005 and 2011.

Let’s face it; the risk of smuggling drugs is high after considering the sentencing guidelines. If you have been charged under federal drug smuggling laws, or any other crime, it is important to hire a qualified attorney immediately to assess the case against you. Contact George F. Hildebrandt, Attorney at Law, to assure you maximize your chances of obtaining the best outcome possible in your case.