The New York Criminal Law Blog

Is that Dandruff on Your Shoulder ... or a Kilogram of Cocaine?

Breathe. Just breathe.

Her heart was racing. Her arteries in her neck were bulging. She fidgeted and did not make eye contact with the customs officer.


Perhaps a mild sedative would have saved them from becoming casualties of the War on Drugs. These two women, from Guyana, with unusually massive weaves, were showing signs of deception. Like Edgar Allen Poe’s heart beneath the floor, their telltale bulging neck veins and shortness of breath warranted further investigation, reports the Smoking Gun.

What the Customs and Border Protection officials found was not altogether shocking, though the location of the kilo of cocaine certainly was. Each of the two women had packets of cocaine weaved into her weave.

According to the affidavits, one of the two women admitted to being paid $7,500 to smuggle the drugs into the country. Each woman is now facing federal drug trafficking charges which, according to the DEA's sentencing guidelines, mean a sentence of 5 to 40 years.

The penalties for drug trafficking are not only severe, they are insanely complex. The punishment depends on the type of drug, quantity, and previous criminal record of the smuggler. Oddly enough, the quality of the drug typically does not matter.

For example, the punishment for cocaine is determined by weight. If the cocaine is mixed with large amounts of filler, that will be punished more severely than importing smaller quantities of pure or raw cocaine.

(Do the feds realize that the law goes easier on dealers who smuggle "the good stuff"?)

If you have questions about drug charges and related punishments, drop by our FindLaw Answers community and pose a question on the message boards, or, if you've already been arrested, consult an attorney.

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