Articles Posted in Drug Importation

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A 33-year-old woman was sentenced to eight years in federal prison Thursday after she and three other women hid cocaine in their bras and underwear upon returning to Port Canaveral from Jamaica earlier this year, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

The D.C. woman was sentenced to eight years and one month for conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. She pleaded guilty on July 20, 2016.

According to court documents, the woman, as well as three others, traveled to Jamaica in May 2016 on board a commercial cruise ship.

When the four women arrived in Jamaica, the D.C. woman allegedly coordinated a meeting with someone who provided the group with more than six kilograms of cocaine concealed in bras and underwear. The D.C. woman apparently paid the person for the cocaine, and the four women returned to the cruise ship with the cocaine concealed under their dresses in the bras and underwear they were provided, according to documents.

The women apparently hid the cocaine in the cabin they shared for the remainder of the cruise.

When the cruise ship returned to Port Canaveral, the D.C. woman and the three other women departed the ship and entered the customs area of the port with the cocaine concealed in their bras and underwear.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers identified the cocaine during screenings and searches of the women.

The other three women were sentenced as well. One was sentenced to two years in prison, one was sentenced to one year and 10 months and one was sentenced to two years and six months.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security investigators.

Being charged with drug importation in the state of Florida is a very tough thing to deal with, especially if you do not have qualified legal representation. By hiring a knowledgeable drug crimes defense lawyer, you take an important step in achieving the most successful outcome for your particular case. Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you through this difficult time by providing you with legal advice and personal attention so that we can work towards a positive resolution to your case.

Drug importation can be charged when drugs and controlled substances are brought into Florida across state lines, both from out-of-country or from another state.  Some commonly imported drugs and controlled substances in Florida are:  

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Crystal Meth
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin

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A Jacksonville woman is accused of trying to smuggle 1 kilogram of the drug MDMA, also known by its street name “Molly,” into the state, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The 32-year-old woman was arrested Monday on a charge of smuggling methamphetamine into the state.

According to the arrest report, a package from China addressed to a CubeSmart storage facility on Western Way was chosen for examination Monday by border enforcement. Homeland Security special agents opened the package, and allegedly found 1 kilogram — a little over 2 pounds — of MDMA, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sheriff’s Office said it and Homeland Security special agents attempted to deliver the package to the CubeSmart, an air-conditioned self storage facility that also accepts delivery of packages for its lessees.

The package was left at 6 p.m. Monday in the unit to which it was addressed, according to police.

About 30 minutes later, police claim the woman showed up, looked around the area, walked into the unit and picked up the package.

She was then stopped by special agents and arrested, according to reports.

After her arrest, police allege the woman told them she met a man on a dating website and he asked her to start picking up packages for him at the CubeSmart. She said she was never paid for picking up the packages.

The woman is being held at the Duval County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

No matter the specific controlled substance and quantity involved, or whether you were arrested by local police or federal agents, any drug smuggling or trafficking accusation is extremely serious. You could face decades behind bars and other serious consequences, so your choice of a criminal defense attorney is critical to the outcome of your case.

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A federal jury recently found a 23-year-old cruise ship employee guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 11, 2016. He was indicted on August 21, 2015.

According to evidence presented at trial, the man was part of a drug distribution ring that imported cocaine into the United States from Roatan, Honduras using cruise ship employees at several ports in the United States. The man, along with five other crewmen from Norwegian Cruise Line, apparently received packages of cocaine from a source of supply in Honduras while the cruise ship was docked there. The packages ranged from 750 grams to a full kilogram of cocaine.

Reports indicate that once the ship had docked in Tampa, the crewmen gathered at a restaurant near the port to remove their secretly stashed cocaine packages. They then met with two local drug traffickers, who had ties to the Honduran source of supply, to provide them with the packages of cocaine. The two local traffickers were stopped by law enforcement after leaving the Channelside District. Agents claim they seized 10 packages of cocaine with a total weight of more than 7.5 kilograms. Agents also said they confiscated more than $50,000 from the crewmen.  

The five other cruise ship employees previously pleaded guilty for their roles in this case.  They will be sentenced in January 2016.  

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Shauna S. Hale and Gregory Nolan.

If you are facing transportation or federal drug trafficking charges, you need a strong criminal defense lawyer right away. State and federal drug charges for smuggling carry severe penalties, including years behind bars. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a conviction for drug smuggling could lead to deportation and might forever ban you from becoming a U.S. citizen.

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Authorities arrested a Florida deputy recently for her alleged role in a marijuana selling business following a month-long investigation.

According to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, an anonymous tipster told them a 27-year-old female deputy was involved in drug activity. Authorities apparently searched the apartment she was staying at with her boyfriend and another couple Friday and said they found felony amounts of marijuana, packaging materials and other items typically associated with the sale and distribution of marijuana.

The woman was charged with marijuana possession over 20 grams, marijuana possession with intent to sell and possessing drug equipment.

She posted bail early Saturday morning and has been placed on administrative leave without pay.

The three other people in the apartment were also arrested on drug charges.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in Florida and throughout the United States. Marijuana is heavily portrayed all over the media, from music videos, movies and television. Because of how common it is, many people assume that marijuana-related drug charges are not as serious as other types of drug crimes. This could not be further from the truth. If you are arrested for possessing or selling marijuana in the state of Florida you could face very serious consequences.

If you or someone  you love has been arrested for a marijuana-related drug offense, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. You have a very small window of time to defend yourself from these charges, so it is best to act fast. A conviction for possessing or selling marijuana can have many consequences, and could affect your life long after you have served any jail time.

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Two Hernando residents have been accused of manufacturing methamphetamine in front of a child.

A search warrant was executed at a home on the 3900 block of Withlacoochee Trail Wednesday morning and Citrus Sheriff Fire Rescue Hazardous Materials Team responded to assist with the investigation due to potentially hazardous materials.

During the search, detectives allege they discovered several items used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Deputies believe that a secondary structure on the property was used to cook meth via the “one pot” method.

A small child was present during the manufacturing process, according to deputies. DCF was immediately notified and responded.

During the search, cooked methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, manufacturing vessels, other manufacturing paraphernalia, and a large amount of meth liquid was allegedly collected.

The amount of methamphetamine seized was more than 200 grams, according to reports. Due to the amount of meth collected, a 29-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were charged with trafficking in methamphetamine. If convicted, they face a 15 year minimum mandatory sentence in prison.

They have also been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of a child, possession of listed chemical, and possession of paraphernalia.

The state of Florida takes meth charges quite seriously. After being arrested for trafficking in methamphetamine, you need to know that you are facing severe consequences if convicted. Our Hernando County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton understand how scary these charges are and we are here to help you obtain the best possible outcome for your unique situation.

Meth is viewed as damaging to not just the person using it, but to members of the community as well. The production of meth can result in fires and explosions that can injure and kill innocent people, including children present, law enforcement personnel and emergency responders who are called to a house that is producing meth. Exposing a child to a meth lab is a first-degree felony, and a conviction carries a five-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. Causing the death of someone else through the manufacture of meth is a capital felony, punishable by life in prison.

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The Justice Department announced new rules recently that would potentially make thousands of federal inmates eligible for presidential grants of clemency, including a requirement that candidates must have served at least 10 years of their sentences and have no history of violence.

The six conditions announced by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, ban inmates with ties to criminal gangs, organized crime groups and drug cartels, and are designed to broaden access to early release for non-violent offenders who were sentenced to long prison terms under mandatory minimum-sentencing policies.

Up to 13 percent of the federal prison system’s 216,000 inmates have served 10 years or more, but not all would qualify for consideration, based largely on their criminal histories.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Inmates whose sentences would be substantially lower if convicted of the same offenses today because of changes to the sentencing structure.
  • Inmates who have demonstrated good conduct in prison.
  • Inmates with no history of violence before or during their term of imprisonment.

“Let there be no mistake, this clemency initiative should not be understood to minimize the seriousness of our federal criminal law,” the deputy attorney general said. “Our prosecutors and law enforcement agents worked diligently and honorably to collect evidence and charge these defendants and then fairly and effectively obtained their convictions. … However, some of them, simply because of the operation of sentencing laws on the books at the time, received substantial sentences that are disproportionate to what they would receive today.”

Cole said most eligible applicants would probably be drug offenders, other offenders could qualify if they meet the new requirements, including so-called career criminals.

Recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug offenders.

The commission estimated that 70 percent of federal drug trafficking defendants would qualify for the change, and their sentences would decrease an average of 11 months, or 17 percent, from 62 months to 51.

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A Riverview man has been arrested and charged with trafficking after deputies allege they found more than 300 pounds of marijuana at his home.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Riverview man was arrested Thursday and 358 pounds of pot were seized from 10728 Deepbrook Drive in Riverview.

Deputies claim that after obtaining a search warrant, they entered the home and found two separate rooms in the home being used to grow marijuana. Each room allegedly contained several large marijuana plants with multiple high sodium vapor lights, ballasts and fans.

In total, deputies found 70 marijuana plants in the home, according to reports. The street value of the marijuana is approximately $700,000.

Tampa Electric crews claim they found an illegal electrical connection at the home. The estimated alleged theft of electricity was $8,800.

Authorities said the 27-year-old man tried to run out of the back of the home but was apprehended in the backyard.

The Riverview man was arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana, cultivation of marijuana, grand theft and own, lease or rent for purposes of trafficking marijuana.

Marijuana use, trafficking, sale or distribution is strictly prohibited in the state of Florida. Marijuana trafficking is a serious criminal offense that carries severe penalties if convicted. In addition to lengthy prison sentences and extensive fines, a conviction of marijuana trafficking will negatively impact all areas of your life, including employment, education, and maintaining custody of your children.

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A resident of Hazlet, New Jersey was recently surprised with an unexpected delivery showed up addressed to a person who does not live there. The surprise was 50 pounds of marijuana, to be exact.

Police in the town responded to the situation and found about $100,000 worth of pot in the boxes, according to reports.

With the hopes of finding who the package was really intended for, they posted photos of the haul on their Facebook page Thursday, writing: “If you were expecting these packages and would like to claim them, please come to Police Headquarters. In the meantime our detectives will be working with County, State, and Federal Law Enforcement agencies to locate the owner of this property.”

At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers fight for the rights of those facing any kind of charge involving marijuana. If your are facing drug charges, we can help guide you through this stressful time. We will challenge any of the prosecution’s allegations and will fight aggressively to suppress all illegally obtained evidence.

We will work tirelessly to have your charges reduced or dropped. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

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Two men pleaded guilty Thursday to importing more than 24 pounds of the main ingredient in the street drug flakka from China to Broward County.

Federal authorities arrested a 25-year-old Orlando man and a 21-year-old Clermont man in June after they allegedly attempted to pick up packages from a shipping and mailbox store in Hollywood.

Homeland Security Investigations agents claim the packages contained the key ingredient for making the synthetic stimulant, which often causes hallucinations and psychosis.

The packages were apparently addressed to fake names and were intercepted while being shipped to commercial mailboxes in Weston and Hollywood, according to authorities.

The men apparently ordered large amounts of the drug to be shipped from labs in China and the conspiracy occurred from January to early June, according to the plea agreement.

According to reports, the men paid cash for mailbox services and used fake identities when they picked up the shipments.

At a federal court hearing in West Palm Beach, both men pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to import the drug ingredient.

The charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

The drug has been linked to several deaths in South Florida as well as many incidents of bizarre behavior.

Federal law makes it a crime to traffic drugs. Drug trafficking charges involves bringing an illegal substance from another place within the United States to another. Special consequences apply to the importation of drugs-bringing drugs from outside the United States into the country.

The penalties for violating federal drug importation laws depends on several factors- the drug involved, the quantities seized, whether use of the drug caused serious bodily injury or death and whether the person convicted has any previous drug-related convictions. Regardless of the circumstances, all the penalties are quite severe. A first conviction for a just a small quantity of a controlled substance, where no injury or death results, carries a minimum of 10 years in prison and a hefty fine.

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During the beginning of the war on drugs, young African Americans heard rumors of government involvement in the crack-cocaine explosion that outraged LA’s black community. Although it was not openly talked about in the media in the 80’s, in 1996, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb published his book, “Dark Alliance,” that connected the African American crack-cocaine surge to a thoroughly planned CIA operation. Major news network entities, including The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, attacked Webb’s research, ultimately discrediting his work. In December 2004, Webb committed suicide.

7724848260_ba4500da86_mNow, Webb’s expose is being further reviewed in a documentary, “Freeway: Crack in the System,” which tells the story of “Freeway” Rick Ross, who created a crack empire in LA during the 1980s and is a key figure in Webb’s “Dark Alliance” narrative. The documentary is being released following the major motion picture “Kill The Messenger,” starring Jeremy Renner in the role of Webb which is now in theatres.  The documentary focuses on key figures in the CIA now stepping forward to tell their stories in a series of interviews with The Huffington Post.

The film not only explores the corrupt foundations of the war on drugs, but also questions the jail sentences the U.S. justice system doled out to a mostly minority population, all while the country’s own foreign policy assisted the drug trade.

According to research from The Sentencing Project, in 1980, there were roughly 40,000 drug offenders in U.S. prisons. By 2011, the number of drug offenders serving prison sentences skyrocketed to more than 500,000. It is important to note that most of these offenders are not high-level operators and do not have prior criminal records.

The “War on Drugs” in the United States translates to mean that the federal and Florida drug laws give vast powers to law enforcement and prosecutors, which can end in the overzealous prosecution of even the most minor drug crimes, causing innocent people and first-time offenders to be sentenced to lengthy prison terms. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers work tirelessly to defend clients accused of misdemeanor and felony drug crimes.

The penalties you could face for a drug crime all depend on the type of drug in question as well as the amount of the drug. Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys have years of experience handling crimes involving all types of drugs, narcotics and controlled substances, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamines
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • PCP
  • Prescription Pills

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