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Over a dozen arrested following drug trafficking investigation

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on suspected drug trafficking activity along the heavily-traveled border that separates the United States from Mexico. While the border has always been a hot spot for criminal activity, the growing power and influence of many Mexican drug cartels in and around Mexico's border towns has led to an important development: federal investigators are putting in more time and energy investigating and prosecuting federal drug trafficking offenses.

Nearly 60 suspects face federal drug trafficking charges following a federal investigation into a large-scale cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling operation. According to federal prosecutors, the federal Southern California drug task force has already arrested 18 of the alleged smugglers, while the others remain at large. The drug trafficking operation allegedly operated between Mexico and Los Angeles.

Officials claim that the network utilized big rigs or semi-trucks to smuggle the drugs over the border. The drugs were allegedly hidden in PVC piping that was concealed in the truck's axles. The trucks were then used to transport legitimate freight. The suspects have all been charged with a number of very serious federal drug crimes, which include conspiracy, distribution and possession with the intent to traffic drugs.

There are many ways for an individual accused of criminal activity, such as a federal drug offense, to defend against his or her charges. From challenging the mental state of the defendant to the act itself, each defense is going to depend on the specific facts of the case. It is important to remember, however, that in the United States a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and guilt regarding a federal drug crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "57 face charges over drug smuggling via big-rig axles," Richard Winton, Aug. 15, 2013