Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

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Drug trafficking busts along Louisiana’s I-20 can bring federal charges

According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than half of federal prisoners are behind bars for drug offenses. Finally, mercifully, there has been talk at the federal level of reducing the harshness of mandatory sentencing schemes for nonviolent drug offenders; the American public is getting fed up with the costly and largely unproductive War on Drugs.

Nevertheless, those convicted of a drug crime still face real time in prison, particularly when convicted in the federal system and particularly for crimes that involve drug trafficking. Throughout certain regions of Louisiana, drug trafficking enforcement is ramping up in regional hotspots where the feds believe large quantities of drugs are regularly being moved through the state on the way to other destinations.

After getting pulled over, easy to wind up facing more serious accusations

Interstate 20 spans almost 200 miles through Louisiana, creating a bridge across the state from Texas into Mississippi – and lands beyond. While the highway has just two lanes in each direction, it is a critical thoroughfare in a supply network connecting not just parts of Louisiana, but a wide swath of the South.

Presently, that’s just what the federal authorities are afraid of. I-20 has been tagged as a major supply route for drug traffickers shipping methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico through Texas, into Louisiana, and from there throughout the Deep South and the Southeast. High-grade marijuana from growers in California also often makes its way into Louisiana on I-20.

It can be surprisingly easy for those transporting drugs along I-20 to get caught. “There may be some cases when [officers] have tips, but for the most part, they’re just doing their jobs, looking and talking to people,” Albert Paxton, a Louisiana State Police Trooper, told the Shreveport times in a January, 2014 interview. “You start talking to people, asking them questions, and their story doesn’t match up.”

A local Shreveport man recently learned that lesson the hard way. After being pulled over for speeding, the 22-year-old was eventually detained and a search of his vehicle revealed approximately ten pounds of marijuana. He pleaded guilty on a charge of marijuana possession with intent to distribute, and on January 16, was sentenced to a 10 month term in federal prison.

All things considered, the sentence was on the light side. Marijuana charges are among the least serious drug distribution offenses, and by pleading guilty, the man could have received a more lenient sentence. But, just because this man got off with a relatively light punishment does not mean another drug defendant, particularly one caught with a heavy drug like meth or cocaine, could not face years, even decades, behind bars.

Accused of transporting drugs? Call a Louisiana defense attorney immediately

If you were caught with drugs while traveling on I-20 or while anywhere else in Louisiana, it is critical that you seek help from a Louisiana criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Drug distribution crimes are more likely to be charged in federal court if there was interstate travel involved, and federal offenses are prosecuted even more vigorously and carry even harsher penalties than their state level counterparts.

An experienced defense attorney can help fight the charges against you, for example, by getting evidence obtained in violation of your rights thrown out or by negotiating a favorable plea deal. If you have been accused of committing a drug distribution crime, get in touch with a lawyer today and get the strong legal defense you need.