“This has been going on as long as there has been smuggling,” says Houston attorney Norm Silverman. He’s talking about the use of unsuspecting, innocent people by drug traffickers to transport their goods, either across the Mexican border or throughout the state of Texas. “If you are a drug trafficking organization, there is no more effective means you can use than have a person be an unwitting courier” he said. “They won’t have any signs of nervousness because they simply don’t know.”
The Houston Chronicle tells of a man who agreed to transport two saddles in exchange for a free bus ride. He was arrested when he crossed the border. The saddles contained $20,000 of cocaine. Later the charges against him were dropped, but he isn’t the only one.
In El Paso, 5 people were caught under similar circumstances at the same bridge over the Rio Grande within 15 months. One was convicted and two pled guilty to lesser charges. Is there a chance these people were innocent, being victims of a larger operation? Definitely.
But even in cases where the “suspect” maintains his innocence and has a credible story, things don’t always come out in the wash. The saddle-traveler, for instance, had no criminal record and a stable employment history. He was not the typical drug mule. And although the charges against him were dropped, the prosecutor says they aren’t convinced he was set up, merely that the dropped charge “means that at this time additional evidence is necessary to take the case to trial.”
A student, who was found crossing the border with duffle bags full of marijuana, maintains his innocence to this day, as he sits in prison. He refused a plea deal. “I was disappointed in the system,” he said. “I thought it would be like in the movies; they’d investigate and there would be fingerprints and everything.” Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case and the jury convicted him.
Does it happen that innocent people are caught up in the drug trade? Yes. Is it common? No. The vast majority of people accused of trafficking drugs knew about the drugs found in their possession. But their case doesn’t end here.
Regardless of your level of culpability, a defense attorney is there to look out for your best interest and get you the best results possible given the circumstances. If you are charged with a drug crime, you need an advocate on your side. Contact our Texas criminal attorneys today to discuss your case.