Drug Smuggling Arrests Net More Children! 

Drug Smuggling Arrests Net More Children! 
Posted by FoM on August 06, 1999 at 06:37:31 PT
By Gary Fields, USA Today
Source: USA Today
WASHINGTON - U.S. Customs officials are seeing a disturbing trend in the drug war: Smugglers are getting younger.
Through June, authorities have arrested 234 people under age 18. They estimate they will arrest more than 310 juveniles by Sept. 30, when the statistical year ends for Customs. In 1997 authorities arrested 222 juveniles for the year.What makes the trend more disturbing, experts say, is the proportion of juveniles 15 and younger who are being arrested. In 1998 they accounted for one in 10 juvenile drug smuggling arrests. Today they account for one in eight.Street dealers in the USA have used juveniles for years to lessen their own risk. But recent arrests indicate that juveniles are carrying larger amounts of drugs meant for widespread distribution.James Fox, professor of criminal justice at Boston's Northeastern University, says there are three issues at play: There is a perception that children won't be punished as severely as adults; juveniles are cheap labor; and they are willing to take risks.Just Wednesday, Customs officials in El Paso arrested a 16-year-old girl who is accused of trying to smuggle 79.9 pounds of marijuana across the border beneath her car floorboard.Other cases:July 4: Inspectors stopped a 9-year-old boy at Miami International Airport on a flight from Cali, Colombia, with 2 pounds of heroin concealed in a Nintendo game and three pairs of shoes. He wasn't prosecuted because of his age.July 1: Agents in Laredo, Texas, caught a 16-year-old girl from Mexico driving a pickup filled with 711 pounds of cocaine, a street value of $32 million. She is awaiting trial.April 4: Inspectors in Miami stopped two girls, ages 13 and 11, arriving on a flight from Jamaica. They were carrying 7 pounds of cocaine in two shampoo bottles. Inspectors said the cocaine had been placed there without their knowledge. Updated 11:15 PM ETŠ Copyright 1999 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. 
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