Drug smuggling, also called drug trafficking, is the crime of transporting controlled substances across some defined border. The movement of drugs across both state and federal borders is considered drug smuggling. Drug smuggling is typically done in a clandestine manner by members of an organized group of offenders. Drug smuggling organizations typically have members from both the US and abroad. US drug enforcement teams partner with nations around the world to investigate and prosecute cases of drug smuggling that involve US import or export of drugs.
According the US Customs Service, each year approximately 370 million people enter the by land, 60 million people enter by air, and six million enter by sea. Statistics also indicate that 116 million vehicles cross the US-Mexico border annually. Each year, more than 90,000 passenger and merchant ships dock at US ports, carrying 400 million tons of cargo in more than 9 million shipping containers. Drug smuggling operations are concealed within this voluminous trade, as drugs are brought into and out of the United States by way of land, air, sea, and mail.
Drug smuggling into the United States can occur by land across the Mexican and Canadian borders. It is estimated that 65 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States crosses the southwest US-Mexican border upon entry. Drug smuggling methods by land can involve transport by commercial, rented, and private vehicles, all terrain vehicles, and even snowmobiles. Drug smuggling is often accomplished by commingling drugs will legitimate cargo.
Drug smuggling can also occur by sea. Maritime drug smuggling involves commercial or private sea crafts ranging from kayaks to large merchant ships. Drug smuggling operations by sea may involve transportation of drugs hidden among legitimate cargo or carried as passengers aboard ferries and passenger crafts. Drug smuggling is also achieved through air travel by way of private aircraft, corporate jets, helicopters, and commercial planes. When drug smuggling operations involve commercial aircraft, drugs are concealed on the offender's person, in their luggage, or on air cargo. Drug smugglers also exploit the US Postal Service and the internet. Drugs and their precursors can be shipped anonymously and efficiently in mail parcels to falsely registered post office boxes. Legal drug precursors may be purchased from foreign suppliers who advertise online substances which may be legal or illegal in their country.
Drug smuggling is a serious crime that can result in severe punishments for convicted offenders. The US Drug Enforcement Agency is responsible for investigating cases of drug smuggling. This agency partners with domestic and foreign organizations to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in drug smuggling operations. Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide mandatory minimum penalties for drug smuggling offenders based on the type and quantity of the drug, and the offender's criminal history. If you would like to learn more about drug smuggling, please contact us to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case to determine how to protect your legal interests.
Find a Lawyer Now
Search for a Criminal Law lawyer in your state or province by using the forms to the right.