White Lines Float Away: Coast Guard Catches Caribbean Contraband

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A Florida-based Coast Guard crew returned to port with a $23 million contraband haul, which represents the fruits of a five-week Caribbean patrol. Unloading the 1,500 pounds of cocaine it had seized near Puerto Rico, the crew received a hero’s welcome back on terra firma. The bust involved a speedboat whose trapped traffickers panicked and chucked the coke overboard as a small Coast Guard craft approached. The crew recovered the cocaine, while the smugglers fled. 

How dangerous is cocaine?

While this big-time bust may keep one shipment off the street, the fact remains that cocaine is readily available, popular and problematic for communities throughout Florida. More than 35 million Americans have used the highly addictive drug, which is known to drain bank accounts and ruin relationships. Not only is cocaine one of the most abused drugs in the country, but it is also heavily associated with medical emergencies, with more than 400,000 emergency visits each year connected to cocaine use. 

How does the law treat cocaine possession and trafficking?

With statistics like these, and Florida’s reputation as a haven for the drug, law enforcement in this state does not treat cocaine-related offenses lightly. Possessing the drug is a felony that may carry mandatory prison sentences, depending upon how much of the substance is an individual’s possession.

Since this drug is frequently combined, or cut, with other substances to extract more profits from a batch of pure cocaine, the law deems any mixture including cocaine as if it were all pure cocaine. This means that individuals’ sentences are based on the weight of any substance that has been mixed with cocaine, leading to much longer sentences than might otherwise be expected. 

Can cocaine charges be fought?

The good news for those arrested for cocaine offenses is that there are a number of defenses a knowledgeable attorney can mount to keep them out of jail. This is extremely important since a cocaine felony conviction can haunt people for years, professionally, personally and financially.