I’ll have personal belongings for a cross-country move, but no drugs, no guns, no produce (I’ve heard this is important). Like I said it’s been a long time since I’ve run across there, so best advice I can offer is to have a CB in your vehicle tuned to Channel 19 and listen to ‘truckers’ travelling back and forth across there. When the man was taken to the department’s crime lab, he watched as officers pried off the bumper of his car. He was released after officers counted the bundles of money from his suitcase and the cash found in his pocket.
Willie Nelson put the Sierra Blanca checkpoint on the map when he was busted there in November 2010, and touring musicians have been following his lead ever since. Snoop Dogg (a.k.a. Snoop Lion), Fiona Apple, Nelly, Armie Hammer —all made news after their vehicles were searched at the checkpoint and dope was discovered. There’s no checkpoint along the westbound lanes of I-8 in Arizona, but three months ago, the Border Patrol opened a checkpoint on westbound I-8 just east of El Centro. The agency’s El Centro Sector also operates permanent checkpoints on California highways 86 and 111. The Border Patrol takes pains to explain that it’s running immigration checkpoints, with the secondary mission of detecting illegal drugs, just as the Supreme Court’s legal interpretation allows. The Supreme Court had, in the past, found two major exceptions to its general disapproval of police checkpoints.
On Nov. 25, Arizona Department of Public Safety officers stopped a driver who had 35 pounds of cocaine near Flagstaff, spokesman Frank Valenzuela said. In October, investigators seized 160 pounds of marijuana and 5 kilograms of cocaine along the same interstate near Kingman. Variations on this scene play out regularly on Interstate 40 in northern Arizona, which has become one of the country’s main corridors for transporting cocaine and marijuana smuggled from Mexico, according to authorities.
Customs & Border Protection tries to hide this fact by claiming the dogs are being used primarily to detect people while failing or refusing to acknowledge the dual capability & usage of the dogs. He is stopped at a drug checkpoint near the Texas border. Border patrol officers have probable cause to search the trailer, but the driver eliminates the need for a warrant with consent to search. He is eventually indicted 21 U.S.C. § 841 with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Under subsection of this statute, the driver faces a mandatory minimum of ten years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment in addition to a possible fine of up to $4 million.
The number of K9 dogs also has increased, to more than 30, up from four in 1999. The animals are trained to sniff out hidden human beings, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and meth-related drugs such as Ecstasy. Since late 2005, though, the number of Yuma Sector agents has risen 55 percent — to about 850 agents, up from 550, as of January.
Versus those charged to tactical checkpoints in the same sector. Improve the effectiveness of checkpoints and border security efforts. Increases 95,000/12 that could be attributed to vigilance at interior checkpoints. To provide the range of facilities offered by permanent checkpoints.
Ryan Childers, a criminal defense attorney who worked as a prosecutor for Imperial County, California, from 2004 to 2006, was surprised to hear how many checkpoint-related drug cases Yuma County handles. Under the current system, an innocent person could easily end up with a ticket just because a pot user left a surprise in the car. Mary, the Phoenix grandma, negotiated a deal in which her misdemeanor charge was dropped in lieu of a $1,200 drug-treatment class.
Sentenced released on time served after 17 months when the government argued for 84-month sentence. Altogether, 7,818 (48.3%) of the 16,198 drug offenders were sentenced to terms below the mandatory minimums under either or both § 3553 and § 3553. Sentencing Commission reviewed documentation for 76,478 cases, of which 21,023 (28.6%) involved offenses carrying a mandatory minimum sentence. Defendants facing mandatory minimum sentences were twice as likely to go to trial rather than accept a plea agreement [6.2% to 3.7%] because they have much less incentive to plead guilty. The ruse has to be set up to focus on likely traffickers, while weeding out as many innocent people as possible — the suspicion has to be specific to an individual, not any group of people who may have used an exit. In the highway patrol’s last operation, troopers found a load of heroin stashed behind a gas cap and the driver was charged with distribution.
In fact, Jeremy Schappell, spokesman for the Yuma Sector, brags that the agency practices zero tolerance when it comes to any amount of illegal substances or paraphernalia. Still, a misdemeanor conviction for pot means that you must pay hundreds of dollars in fines in Arizona. And, it’s not uncommon for defendants to fork over thousands of dollars in attorney fees trying to avoid a conviction — which, for some, means loss of a job or disqualification for federal financial aid.
Unfortunately for those caught on the Arizona side of the state line, a misdemeanor still packs a punch. Besides a fine, it also requires defendants or their lawyers to appear in court, which can get expensive. The busted motorists whom New Times interviewed were particularly chagrined that a dog wound up leading officers to the pot they had stashed in their luggage. Now, county officers are no longer faced with the dilemma of either doing all that work or ignoring the fine-producing cases. The Border Patrol’s heightened checkpoint activity played a big role in boosting the number of misdemeanor cases handled by the Yuma County Attorney’s office from 980 in 2000 to more than 1,500 by 2005. Though the Border Patrol is a federal agency that’s using its resources to do the work of Yuma County authorities, Schappell says it “can’t turn a blind eye” to the casual users picked up because of the extra dogs.