How Severe is the Penalty for Being a Drug Mule?
It seems that swallowing 15 cocaine pellets was just a practice run for seasoned drug smuggler Matthew Lawson, aged 32 years. He was arrested in September 2015 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when he flew in from Jamaica for swallowing and smuggling 115 pellets of cocaine, which weigh around two pounds. He has just pleaded guilty in Fort Lauderdale’s federal court. He said he had been smuggling the drug for years, beginning with only 15 pellets.
When Lawson admitted he swallowed the pellets, he told investigators it wasn’t his first time smuggling drugs into South Florida. He told law enforcement officials that he had been transferring cocaine from one country to another for years and that it had all been done using the swallowing method. From Jamaica to the U.S. he had made 15 trips which were all successful. Ya’ Man!
Lawson faces a possibility of 20 years in a federal jail and a fine of $1 million fine when he comes up for sentencing early next year.
The eventual discovery of Lawson’s million dollar secret took place when he was selected when disembarking a Caribbean Airlines flight in Florida recently for a thorough random baggage search.
The investigators revealed that he seemed very nervous and eventually admitted to concealing 115 pellets in his stomach. Over the following 5 days the pellets were passed out of his digestive system. It seems that when this method is used to disguise illegal importation of drugs, honey is used to help swallow the pellets.
He said he had been told to leave his car in the airport parking lot and meet a man at a nearby hotel to deliver the cocaine. He said he was usually paid $5 per gram he delivered, which would compute to a payment of about $4,700 for the September delivery.
Lawson was not the only accused drug mule recently to be apprehended for illegal drug smuggling using the swallowing method. Girvan Davis, 24, a Jamaican citizen, claimed he had concealed about 80 pellets through the swallowing method but as he had vomited, only 57 of the cocaine pellets weighing 1.3 pounds of cocaine were eventually recouped.
The penalty for smuggling cocaine into Florida is severe and both these two men could face 20 years in jail, even though they are only drug mules, meaning they never gain anything like as much as the person who hired them. Their only hope of being treated with leniency is by hiring a competent Florida criminal defense attorney who will do his or her best to get the charge reduced with a lesser penalty.
Swallowing the amount of cocaine that these two people did could be dangerous and even lead to death if the pellets burst open in the stomach. If there is any evidence to prove that these people were coerced into carrying dangerous drugs in this way it may be possible for an experienced Miami drug lawyer to convince the judge to exclude the evidence or find that the incident does not warrant inflicting the maximum penalties. A competent Miami criminal defense lawyer may even convince a jury that the defendant is not guilty beyond every reasonable doubt, depending on what is left of the case.
The important thing is that every case has two sides. The government has theirs. It’s up to the accused to mount an aggressive defense against charges like this if the criminal defendant is to stand a chance in court.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.