Drug trafficking is one of the most serious criminal offenses, often resulting in federal charges and severe potential penalties. Could one be involved with this type of offense without knowing? If so, how could their lack of awareness be proven in court? Our team at Law Office of Jeff Manciagli explains some shocking information about unwitting involvement in drug trafficking and how it could happen to anyone.
Defining Drug Trafficking
Drug trafficking is the illegal transporting, distributing, and/or selling of illicit substances. These offenses often involve significant quantities of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or other narcotics.
You could face drug trafficking charges if:
- You are found in possession of a large amount of an illegal substance
- You travel across state or country borders with the illicit substance in your possession
- You had the intent to sell or distribute the illicit substance
Drug trafficking is punishable by state and federal laws. This means that individuals charged with drug trafficking could face state and federal charges, both resulting in serious penalties.
Unwittingly Involved in Drug Trafficking
It’s frightening to think that anyone could become involved in a drug trafficking scheme without knowing it. However, this does happen. There are a couple of ways that an individual may commit drug trafficking without being aware of their doing so.
As an Unwitting Drug Mule
A drug mule is someone who transports drugs as part of an illegal drug crime. Oftentimes, drug mules are paid for their role in the crime, but other times, they are unaware that they are being used as mules for smuggling. This is done when the illicit substances are placed in the individual’s possession without their knowledge. One example of this involved a drug cartel circumventing automobile technology, allowing them to unlock cars using duplicate keys and load illicit drugs in the vehicle. They then removed the drugs from the vehicles overnight, leaving many drivers unaware that they transported drugs across borders. However, a number of drivers were caught in possession and accused of drug trafficking. Other people may be unwitting drug mules if they offer to carry or transport something for an acquaintance, unaware that what they offered to transport was an illicit substance.
Any time you are traveling internationally, use caution when interacting with anyone you do not know personally and refrain from offering to transport any of their belongings or do them favors as you may be unknowingly volunteering to serve as a drug mule.
As a Car Passenger
If you are in a car that contains an illicit substance, you could be charged with drug trafficking. This is true even if the car was not yours or you were not driving. Simply being in the same vehicle can lead officers to believe that you are guilty of drug trafficking when in reality, you may have had no idea that the car you were riding in also contained illegal drugs. This is especially serious if the car traveled across state or federal borders.
Can You Be Charged If You Didn’t Know You Were Involved?
Yes, you can be charged. Being charged is not the same as being convicted. If you are charged, this means there is some evidence that supports you were involved in a drug trafficking offense. In order to avoid a conviction, you must work with an experienced drug crimes defense attorney.
To be convicted of drug trafficking, the prosecution must prove that you had the intent to commit the crime. It will be key to your defense to prove that you were unaware of your role in the drug trafficking offense, thus removing the key element of intent.
Drug Trafficking Defense in Atlanta, Georgia
If you have been wrongfully accused of intentionally committing a drug trafficking crime, contact our attorney at Law Office of Jeff Manciagli. Attorney Jeff Manciagli has experience handling complex trafficking cases and can help prove that your role in the alleged offense does not warrant a criminal conviction. Discuss your case and charges today, call us at (770) 884-4708.