New York residents might want to know about recent developments involving the use of drones to transport drugs from Mexico into the United States. Two California men pleaded guilty in federal court on Aug. 11 to operating drones loaded with heroin in an attempt to smuggle the drugs across the border with Mexico.
According to authorities, the two El Centro men allegedly traveled to an empty area of Calexico, California in April in order to collect almost 30 pounds of heroin smuggled from Mexico via drone. One of the men, aged 18, purportedly piloted the drone from the border to its landing spot in a field, while another 19-year-old man loaded its illegal cargo into the trunk of a vehicle. A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson described this incident as perhaps the first drug-related seizure involving a drone along the US-Mexico border. Mexican authorities, however, claim that a drone carrying approximately several pounds of methamphetamine crashed in a Tijuana store parking lot just across the border from San Diego in January.
The two young men are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 20 and face sentences of up to 20 years in federal prison for drug charges. The seizure involving a drone also follows on the heels of recent incidents in which drug traffickers used ultralight aircraft launched from Mexico to transport bundles of marijuana into the California desert.
Drug trafficking charges can potentially result in serious penalties, including fines and long prison sentences. In certain situations, an attorney may be able to assist individuals facing these charges by challenging the constitutionality of the search that led to the seizure of the drugs.