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Guilty pleas for relatives in $1 million Baton Rouge drug bust

Evidence can be suppressed when law enforcement officials fail to follow proper protocol. Arrests and searches and seizures must be conducted without violating a Louisiana defendant's rights. Details like these may seem insignificant to authorities and may be overlooked by defendants, but they can be critical to a criminal defendant's case.

Federal investigators were waiting when a private plane touched down at Baton Rouge Metro Airport in October. Three men were aboard the aircraft, which stopped for refueling. Authorities were suspicious, because earlier the Beechcraft 58P had flown from Atlanta to a Mexican-border area of Texas and was on the return trip, after only a three-hour stop.

Permission was granted for agents to search the plane, although upon first inspection, the drugs officials hoped to find were not evident. Agents searched again while two of the airplane's occupants, a father and son, used a restroom. Two gym bags were found filled with more than 72 pounds of cocaine valued at $1 million.

The father told investigators he was the only one on board who was aware of the drugs. Agents arrested all three men although later dropped charges against one of the defendants, the primary defendant's son-in-law. The 32-year-old son pleaded guilty earlier this year to drug charges, with sentencing set for next month.

The father also is planning to plead guilty. The 55-year-old man is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute the drug. The son could be imprisoned for up to five years, but his father, with an earlier conviction for cocaine distribution, will receive a prison term of no less than 10 years.

Punishments for drug crimes vary, depending on the drug involved and the quantity of the drug. The penalties also differ depending upon what a defendant is accused of doing with a drug – possession, manufacturing or trafficking.

Source: The Advocate, "Colorado man will admit to drug conspiracy charge, attorney says" Joe Gyan Jr., May. 28, 2014

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