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Federal investigators indict 11 for allegedly smuggling drugs

For nearly a year, agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency say they have been looking into a potential drug smuggling ring that has allegedly been operating out of the San Diego International Airport. According to investigators, baggage handlers have been abusing their security clearance to sneak bags filled with cocaine and methamphetamine into the airport where it is then exchanged with couriers. It’s because of this that 11 people have been indicted on serious drug charges.

The federal grand jury indictment names at least four baggage handlers from the San Diego International Airport and seven couriers who are accused of taking the bags of drugs from the baggage handlers in airport bathrooms. The bags were then brought aboard planes heading to destinations across the country, including Hawaii. The indictment charges them with possession of cocaine and methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports this week that seven of the 11 people charged in the case have entered pleas of not guilty in San Diego federal court. And while some of the accused were granted bail, others were not as lucky. One of those accused has been considered a flight risk and is currently being held in jail without bail.

While it’s likely that many of the accused have already obtained lawyers, it’s still worth stressing the importance of seeking legal counsel. Because of the amount of drugs seized in the investigation -- 17 pounds of cocaine and 18 pounds of methamphetamine -- it’s possible that those convicted could face incredibly serious penalties such as extensive time in prison. In some cases, if anyone who was indicted was in the United States on a visa then they could face deportation, which are all things a good criminal defense lawyer can address in drug-crimes cases such as this.

Source: NBC News San Diego, “4 Airport Baggage Handlers Accused of Drug Smuggling,” Andie Adams, Mar. 18, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results