On being a stranger in a strange land

Let’s say you came across the Mexican border illegally to find a job.  You have no criminal history.

You landed in the Midwest and found a job in a packing plant.   The work is hellishly hard, but you can send money back to your parents.  Then, you got hurt and lost your job.  So, several friends of yours from down south talk you into shlepping a bit of meth.  About the second or third time you do, you get rolled up by the feds together with a whole bunch of your amigos.

Luckily, you aren’t going to do a lot of time–only five years.  That’s because of your low criminal history score and the fact that the government can’t put a boatload of dope on you.

You have never been in a prison or a jail until the feds arrested you.  You are tired and worn out.  You simply want to go back to Mexico and your parents as quick as you can.  As far as going back to Mexico is concerned, you know you will be deported anyway when you have done your 60 months.  However, five years seems like a long time.

So, you decide to cooperate.  You testify at a trial.  Your sentence gets reduced.  ICE picks you up from the US Marshals and is ready to deport you.

That’s when you learn that your parents have been “visited” in Mexico by friends of your friends.  They tell your parents that they will be waiting for you to return.  You know they aren’t kidding.


8 responses

  1. Gideon,

    I tried writing a funny response, but I couldn’t find anything humorous to say about a guy who stands a decent chance of having his head chopped off. I’ll keep trying.* RGK

    *A pretty nasty hit-man in northern Chihuahua called himself “Zucaritas,” the Mexican brand name for “Frosted Flakes.” Now that’s funny!

  2. I’m not sure I understand the point of the post. We’re supposed to be sympathetic to the plight of a drug runner because his enterprise turned out badly for him?

    Tell me he turned to a life of petty thievery after his injury to make ends meet, and I’d be quite a bit more sympathetic.

    Those “friends” preemptively threatened his parents to persuade him to run their drugs? Sorry, it’s no different from kidnapping or any other extortion. Life is full of hard choices, but that doesn’t excuse choosing badly. His parents had a low probability of survival from the moment those thugs used them to coerce the illegal alien, but his acquiescing to their demands sealed the deal.

    Those friends threatened his parents after the fact for vengeance’s sake? It’s no different. He knew when he started running the drugs that he was putting his family at risk should things go badly.

    And yes, I’m assuming things will go as badly for his parents as they will for him were he to show up at home.

    Eric Hines

  3. Dear Mr. Hines,

    The point of the post was to describe what sometimes happens in the real world. You are free to draw your own conclusions about just deserts.

    All the best.


  4. Your Honor:

    This is precisely why my judge routinely does his best to let cooperating defendants in on the game. He has too many stories of cooperating witnesses (whether defendants within U.S. borders illegally, or mere footsoldiers in the drug war) who the police find dead a week after they testify at trial.

    Every so often we get one who doesn’t plead out, and it’s a bit of a surprise. It doesn’t take long to guess that someone in jail told them about the consequences of snitching.

    But by and large, even though they get warned, they just keep cooperating with the AUSAs. Kind of hard not to, with the sentencing ranges they way they are.


    PS: The scope of what you forfeit with those plea bargains is also amusing, but acceptance of responsibility is awfully tempting.

  5. PPS. I can’t figure out how to edit typos in your blog commenting system. I meant, “…with the sentencing ranges [the] way they are.”

    Also, I wish I had an ugly truck. Reminds me of my parents’ longtime family attorney. The fellow drove a late-model Mercedes or Shelby Cobra 1 replica around town, but whenever he went to court, he drove his 1980’s Datsun pickup, a poorly-fitting brown suit, and a shabby, beat-up suitcase.

  6. JRL,

    Thanks for your comments. As I indicated to Mr. Hines, my post was intended to be descriptive. The reader should draw his or her own conclusions. That said, the People ought to know how things really work in their federal judicial system.


    PS Thanks for the additional comment on the Datsun pickup and your folks’ lawyer. It made me smile.

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