A woman who was driving with her two children in the car was arrested Monday morning at a Border Patrol checkpoint near San Clemente on the northbound 5 freeway, for possession of more than 6 pounds of methamphetamine.
According to a statement from the Border Patrol, 6.72 pounds of methamphetamine were discovered in the lining of an ice chest located near a child's booster seat in the backseat of a 2001 Honda Accord, which was being driven on the 5 north by a 33-year-old woman with her two children in the vehicle.
Agents allegedly discovered the drugs after they "became suspicious" of the driver, pulled her over on Basilone Road and brought in a police dog to search the vehicle. The woman was identified as a U.S. citizen, though details regarding the rest of her identity have not been released. She was turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the two children were taken by San Diego child welfare services workers.
This marks the second methamphetamine bust at the same checkpoint recently, according to authorities. On Sunday morning, a 47-year-old Mexican man was pulled over 2 miles from the checkpoint and arrested after 12.79 pounds of methamphetamine were discovered hidden inside the intake manifold of the 1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 the man was driving.
The estimated street value of the drugs allegedly found in the woman's car is more than $67,000; the methamphetamine found in the man's car has an estimated street worth of nearly $128,000.
Methamphetamine Possession Charges & Penalties in California
A person who is arrested for transporting methamphetamine may face serious charges and penalties under California Health and Safety Code § 11378. This section covers selling, transporting, providing and administering methamphetamines and a number of other controlled substances. To secure a conviction under § 11378 for methamphetamine transportation, the prosecution would need to prove:
- The defendant transported the drugs; and
- The defendant knew the drugs were present and were aware of their nature as a controlled substance.
Meth transportation is a straight felony in California, with a potential state prison sentence of 2, 3 or 4 years and a maximum fine of $10,000. If transportation was alleged to have occurred across more than 2 counties, the sentence may increase to 3, 6 or 9 years.
Both instances of alleged meth transportation discussed above may also be subject to sentencing enhancements due to the amount of drugs allegedly discovered in the vehicles. When meth charges involve more than 1 kilogram (about 2.2 pounds), a defendant may face an additional prison term of 3 to 15 years.
The serious nature of drug charges makes involving an attorney of the utmost importance. If you have been arrested after a search of your vehicle, home or person yielded any amount of methamphetamine or other controlled substance, you need to act quickly to secure legal counsel. Even if law enforcement allegedly discovered drugs, this does not necessarily mean that you should be convicted or even formally charged with possession or another drug crime. An attorney can work to protect your rights and interests.
Some potential defenses to drug possession and transportation charges may include:
- You were unaware of the presence of the drugs;
- You were unaware of the nature of the drugs (for example, thought they were a different, legal substance);
- The drugs were discovered as the result of an illegal search of your property, person or vehicle; or
- Law enforcement did not have probable cause to conduct a search.
If drug evidence is illegally obtained, it may be deemed inadmissible in court proceedings. If you were truly unaware of the drugs on your property or in your vehicle, this may be a valid defense against drug charges. A skilled attorney can use the facts of your case to your benefit to help you secure reduced charges, an acquittal or even dismissed charges.
For more information on drug charges and your rights, call an Orange County criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman for a free case review.