Can the Federal Government Prosecute Someone For Drug Activity Outside the United States?
I do have a number of clients who come to me and ask this question because they're involved with drug trafficking in other countries outside the U.S. and the don't understand how the U.S. government has jurisdiction over their case if the drug activities they were involved in took place outside the United States.
Where the federal government would get authority and jurisdiction to charge people under these circumstances would be if the drugs in question were being moved into the United States. That would then be the minimum contact necessary for the FBI, Homeland Security, Secret Service, DEA to get involved and to prosecute somebody who's in another country or doing things in another country.
What they do is they track drugs and if the drugs are coming into the U.S., then they have the ability to try to get to the root of the problem. In other words, where are these drugs coming from? For example, if they're coming from Costa Rica, Guatemala, China — whatever country — and they can show that they're coming in, then the feds will use their contacts in those countries to try and catch the source of the drugs.
Extradition Back to the United States
They make arrests in other countries. They have authorities in other countries make arrests on their behalf and then have the person extradited back to the United States or they'll indict somebody secretly here in the United States and then when that person enters the United States, they will arrest them.
So, there's all sorts of different ways the federal government can prosecute these big drug crimes and if you're one of the people caught up in the net of a federal drug crime prosecution or you have a family member who's been arrested.
They are charged with trafficking drugs, a RICO violation or any other violation involving large movements of drugs where you're looking at mandatory minimums in prison, you should contact an attorney right away and let the attorney deal with their case and start making moves right from the beginning to protect their interests.
Drug Trafficking and Mandatory Minimum Sentences
A lot of drug trafficking cases come with mandatory minimums because if the amount of drugs involved is over a certain amount, then that will trigger for example, a 10-year mandatory minimum.
I many of these big drug trafficking cases and if somebody's involved with the movement of a large amount of drugs then they're going to end up getting arrested and charged by the federal government.
They'd be facing a minimum of 10 years in prison just for the drug weight alone. So, it's imperative that an attorney start to work on your case right away to see what can be done to try to avoid some of these mandatory minimums that come along with some of the federal drug crime cases.
There's a whole bunch of different aspects to a drug crime case, but the bottom line is that the feds are able to catch people in other countries and even other states by using GPS monitoring. They'll put a tracking device on their vehicle.
One of the most common ways to tie everything together is through wire taps. They'll get a search warrant for the person's phone, wire tap them, listen to them and start grabbing drug loads to prove that what's being discussed over the phone has to do with drug trafficking and eventually they'll issue an indicted and start to arrest those individuals who were involved in the drug enterprise that they are investigating.
Use of Informants in Drug Cases
So, in addition to GPS monitoring, wire tap evidence, another big area that the feds used in these big drug cases is informants. They'll catch somebody with drugs and then they'll try to get that person to cooperate against other people involved in the drug conspiracy.
So, this three-prong attack of informants, wire taps, GPS — when that's combined with good investigation, surveillance,, video-taping, then they can start to put together these federal drug cases and arrest people, prosecute them and then those people will have pressure put on them to try to cooperate with the federal government and that's how they continue to catch people.
What they're really looking at doing is knocking out big amounts of drugs that are coming into the United States, being sold on U.S. streets and they will go to other countries in order to do that.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0994.