A massive drug bust in Boyle Heights could lead to deportations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, two men were accused of smuggling more than 30 pounds of cocaine across the U.S. Mexico border before being arrested in Boyle Heights. Officials said they could face deportation because they have been living in the country illegally. Officials said they found 33 pounds of cocaine in one of the men’s cars as well as $600,000 in cash and an ounce of crystal methamphetamine in an apartment he shared with his wife, who was also arrested by Border Patrol for an immigration violation.
INVESTIGATION AND DRUG BUST
He and three other men were arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs for the purpose of selling them. Police said two of the men entered the country illegally. The detention of the wife triggered a protest in downtown Los Angeles. Officials said even though she wasn’t involved in the drug crime investigation, she faces possible deportation because she was in the country illegally. The operation that led to the drug bust began when Border Patrol alerted Los Angeles County Sheriff’s narcotics investigators about a Chevy Malibu that was believed to have been involved in cross-border drug smuggling.
Border Patrol officials told sheriff’s investigators that the car was headed to the Los Angeles area. When the car arrived at the apartment complex on Bernal Avenue in Boyle Heights, investigators say several men offloading what appeared to be drugs from the vehicle. Officials then moved in and arrested four men. According to Border Patrol, they secured permission from the wife who was later arrested by Border Patrol officials to search the apartment where they discovered more cash and meth.
NEIGHBORS EXPRESS SHOCK
Neighbors in the apartment complex said the man who was arrested and his wife had lived in the same apartment for more than a decade. They said they could not believe the families were involved with drugs, adding that they were a “typical Mexican immigrant family” – poor, hard-working, and kind. Neighbors said the men delivered fruit in downtown Los Angeles and worked at a car wash and in construction while the women worked at a restaurant and a bakery in Boyle Heights. No one had reported seeing any foot or car traffic that would indicate something strange was going on in that apartment.
DRUG CRIMES AND DEPORTATIONS
If you are not a citizen of the United States and if you have been convicted of a crime (any type of crime), there is a serious possibility that you could be deported or removed from the United States. This is a fact whether or not you are a legal or illegal immigrant. You may have a valid visa or even be a lawful permanent resident or a green cardholder. Still, you could be deported for a criminal conviction.
Under U.S. immigration law, there is a long list that spells out the grounds for deportability. Crimes are certainly grounds for removal from the U.S. The question then arises as to what types of crimes provide the grounds for deportability. Here are some of the criteria for crimes that could get you deported.
CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE
If the crime that is committed is viewed as reprehensible and was committed with some degree of intent, recklessness of willfulness, it may be considered a crime of moral turpitude. You may be deportable for one crime involving moral turpitude within five years of entering the U.S. if you could have received a prison sentence for one year or more. You could also get deported if you commit two or more crimes involving moral turpitude that did not arise out of ” a single scheme of criminal misconduct.”
Convictions for drug sales or trafficking are often deemed as crimes of moral turpitude. Other crimes such as possession or use are not considered so. However, drug crimes don’t necessarily need to be crimes of moral turpitude in order for the persons convicted to be deported because drug crimes are separately listed in the statute as grounds for deportability. Also, if separate charges were tacked on to a drug crime, these might constitute crimes of moral turpitude as well. In any, if you are an immigrant – legal or illegal – and you have been charged with a drug crime, you will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help protect your rights.
AN AGGRAVATED FELONY
It is important to remember that a single conviction of an aggravated felony is enough to make a noncitizen deportable, regardless of the length of the possible sentence. Immigration law contains its own definition of an aggravated felony, which is often not consistent with the definition of an aggravated felony in criminal law. For immigration law purposes, drug trafficking has been deemed as an aggravated felony. Again, you need an experienced lawyer to look into the crime for which you were convicted and whether it is a deportable offense.
DRUG CRIMES AND IMMIGRATION LAW
Immigration laws do address drug crimes. A person who is not a citizen can be deported for having, at any time after being admitted to the United States, been convicted or violating or attempting to violate any law or regulation relating to controlled substances. It doesn’t matter whether or not the conviction was for violating a state, federal, or foreign law or regulation – any of these will simply make the noncitizen deportable.
For example, if a noncitizen is arrested for possessing marijuana, he or she may still be deported, even if marijuana is legal in California. Since it’s still a federal crime to possess or sell marijuana, the individual might still be deported. There is an exception for the conviction of a single marijuana offense if it involved possession of 30 grams or less for personal use. Such a conviction will not make you deportable. Also, any individual, who at any time after admission into the U.S. has been a drug abuser or addict, is deportable. You don’t even have to be convicted. Your admission of drug use or a medical report could be used as the basis for deportation proceedings.
CONTACTING AN EXPERIENCED LAWYER
As you can see, a drug crime conviction can have serious consequences including deportation. If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of a drug crime, the experienced, knowledgeable, and resourceful drug crime defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Randy Collins are here to help build a strong defense in your case and assist you in getting an acquittal, charges reduced or obtaining alternative sentencing. Call us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, and case evaluation.