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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

Second man gets probation in $1 million cocaine bust

The second of two men who were charged in a California cocaine bust in 2017 and pleaded guilty has been sentenced to probation. In February, the first man to be sentenced received a sentence of mandatory supervision for five years. On March 12, his co-defendant received the same sentence from a judge.

On September 28, 2017, the two men, both age 30 at the time, were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol on Interstate 15 near Temecula. Agents suspected that the Chevy Malibu in which the men were traveling might be loaded with contraband, so they deployed a K9 agent to search the vehicle. The dog detected drugs, and then the agents found 32 bundles of cocaine that weighed in at 76 pounds. The estimated street value for the cocaine was nearly $1 million.

Neither man had any previous documented felony convictions in Riverside County. Both defendants entered guilty pleas in exchange for reduced charges. They were charged with the possession of more than 4 kilograms of cocaine and the transportation of controlled substances for sale. The controlled substances charge was later dropped.

The mandatory supervision sentence is considered to be a more stringent form of probation. It is often used instead of prison time to conserve space in correctional institutions.

Plea bargaining is often used as a way to get criminal charges reduced. When someone is charged with drug crimes, another option for getting his or her charges reduced or even dropped is to investigate whether or not the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were upheld. The Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful search and seizure. Drug evidence that was obtained in an illegal search can be suppressed, which could severely damage the prosecution's case.

Source: Patch, "Man Who Helped Bring $1 Million In Cocaine To SWR Gets Probation," 3/12/2018

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