proudly defends those accused of possessing illegal drugs in a
culture which officially condemns the practice of consuming
drugs, yet vigorously consumes them. There are many types of
drug cases, but the most prevalent in South Texas is possession
of marijuana, known locally as "POM".
misconception is that a person is automatically guilty simply
because drugs are found in his car. That fact, in and of itself,
does not equal guilt. The government must also prove intent or
knowledge to possess the illegal substance.
is prohibited by both federal and state laws. Different factors
determine what charge will be filed. Factors include weight of
the marijuana, location, and the person's criminal record.
Numerous other factors can affect sentencing.
South Texas is
the busiest place in the United States for drug seizures and
drug arrests. There are at least 5 (five) U.S. Border Patrol
checkpoints in South Texas, including Brooks, Cameron, Jim Hogg,
Kenedy, and Webb counties. Checkpoints have been described as the
"functional equivalent" of the border, which is used
as an excuse to search countless motorists. Millions of cars are
stopped at these checkpoints each year, resulting in thousands
of drug arrests in the so-called "war on drugs."
appear to be an end to the "war," despite many
billions of dollars in funding since the early 1980s, and
despite ample evidence that the "war" is a miserable
failure and has not made a dent in drug use.
law enforcement officials conveniently ignore the obvious and
call for even greater efforts in the "war." The
"war's" efforts rarely target the "big
fish", instead resulting in thousands of arrests of
"mules", who just transport drugs through the South
Texas gauntlet of law enforcement.
A partial list
of government agencies seeking drug arrests in South Texas: U.S.
Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs
Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, several narcotics
'task forces', every county's sheriff and constables, and
municipal police departments.
problems caused by the "war on drug's" scatter-brained
approach is overloaded courts. Dramatic increases in police
funding, coupled with very little increase for prosecution and
courts have caused backlogs of hundreds of cases.
federal prosecutors routinely decline to prosecute cases from
federal police agencies because their courts simply cannot
handle the volume. Those cases are typically prosecuted by local
district attorneys. Forfeited property, which is usually sold at
auction, helps reduce the financial burden of prosecution.
Still, the cost
of handling those cases in state courts is not insignificant.
Money gained from forfeited property has become less and less
attractive. Several district attorneys in South Texas even
publicly announced they would stop prosecuting federal drug
cases until they were paid to do so. Emergency funding was
apparently authorized by Congress, but it is only a temporary
solution. Look for this problem to crop up again in the near
on situation - October 2, 2000 - Border state prosecutors say
enough is enough and flatly refuse to prosecute federal drug
cases; promised federal money still hasn't reached the counties.
counties' and state's cost of housing inmates from these cases
is figured in, the proposition of prosecuting cases from federal
agencies actually costs Texas even more money.
If ever there
was a doubt that the "war on drugs" often tramples our
constitutional rights, consider that even a United States
District Judge is not above being harassed. If it can happen to
him, it can happen to any of us. See
are for people 21 years or older, do not involve enhancements,
are not exclusive, and are limited to Texas.
**This page is for
informational purposes ONLY and must not be relied upon as legal
advice because it is NOT a substitute for the advice of a qualified
attorney, nor does it establish an attorney-client
Not certified by the Texas
Board of Legal Specialization.