The state of California is known for being tough on those charged with drug crimes. This is true for charges involving simple possession but even more so when the charges include weightier crimes likes trafficking or smuggling. As the following case shows, the possible penalties can be very severe when the federal government gets involved.
On March 23, three Mexican citizens were arrested and charged with federal drug trafficking after reportedly being found on a boat that also contained $3 million worth of marijuana. According to reports, the panga boat was first spotted by a California Department of Fish and Wildlife officer who was off duty at the time. He notified the authorities around 12:40 p.m., and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Black Hawk helicopter was sent to San Miguel Island, near where the boat was located.
The three men on the boat, ages 40, 46 and 32, told officers they were from Mexico and had been on the boat for three days, sailing from Sinaloa. They allegedly told officers they had been paid $1,000 to deliver the marijuana and would get another $3,000 if the trip was successful. They had originally planned to dock the boat at San Simeon or Monterey but reportedly ran low on gas. The drugs were confiscated and the boat towed to San Pedro. All three men were being held without bail and were expected to be present for the preliminary hearing on April 6 and arraigned on April 10.
The penalties for a conviction of federal drug trafficking are severe and can include life in prison. Defendants should do all in their power to present a strong defense, including discussing their cases with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Boat with $3 million worth of marijuana seized in Channel Islands," Matt Hamilton, March. 23, 2015