International drug trafficking cases can be very complex and involve many different parties. Oftentimes, after large-scale investigations, federal prosecutors will bring extensive federal criminal charges against anyone who is suspected of being involved in a drug smuggling conspiracy.
This can include many different people -- from those who may allegedly have played only a minor role in drug crimes on up to someone who may seem more responsible and who is suspected of reaping substantial monetary benefit.
Sometimes U.S. officials, such as law enforcement agents, U.S. border patrol agents, and even elected officials have been charged with drug crimes. In fact, in some cases whole towns near borders, especially along the border of Mexico, have sometimes been pulled into what prosecutors believe as one big conspiracy involving drugs or gun trafficking.
Some of the charges connected with drug crimes may include drug trafficking, drug importation and drug distribution. These can involve violations of state and federal law.
These kinds of charges can have very serious consequences if they are not aggressively defended. Besides ruining the lives of those accused along with their family members, these individuals may be looking at jail time, probation, drug treatment programs, property forfeiture, and in some cases possibly deportation.
This can be true even if the charges appear to be relatively minor drug offense that involved either very little amounts of drugs or money. However, sometimes even less serious charges can result in severe consequences depending upon the circumstances and the evidence that the prosecutors have compiled.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Corruption flows freely along U.S. - Mexico border," Richard A. Serrano, May 13, 2012