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California men face 20 years in prison on drug charges

On Aug. 12, federal authorities in California said that an 18-year-old man and a 19-year-old man admitted to using drones in an attempt to smuggle heroin. Police say that they tried to transport 30 pounds of the drug across the border from Mexico to the United States. According to a representative from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it was the first known drug seizure involving drones.

Although drones and other ultralight aircraft can only carry a limited cargo, law enforcement agencies are keeping a close eye on them. This is because they have become more widespread among the general public and among those looking for quick ways to deliver drugs. However, it is not clear that using drones has been effective or practical for large scale smuggling operations. Authorities in California say that ultralight aircraft have been known to deliver marijuana across the Imperial Valley in an effort to circumvent stronger border security.

The men, who entered guilty pleas in federal court, could each face up to 20 years in prison. They will be sentenced on Oct. 20 on charges of heroin possession with intent to distribute.

Those who have been charged with drug possession or similar offenses may wish to talk to an attorney. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to come up with a defense to the charges such as arguing that the drugs did not belong to the defendant. It may also be possible to point out inconsistencies in witness or police testimony. If successful, it may be possible to cast doubt on the charges, which could lead to a plea bargain or having the charges dropped completely.

Source: Time, "2 Plead Guilty to Using Drones to Smuggle Heroin Into U.S." Associated Press, Aug. 12, 2015

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