Illegal immigrants caught smuggling marijuana into Arizona from Mexico will now face additional charges. Offenders will be charged with a drug smuggling charge as well as illegal border crossing. The change comes following an announcement in April by Attorney Jeff Sessions regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal border crossing.
A revision to the plea agreement policy regarding these cases has also been put in place, Tucson.com reports. Taking a plea agreement includes a 6-month jail sentence. A new addition to a plea agreement includes the addition of 6 more months in jail for illegally crossing the border.
The jail terms will run simultaneously, meaning the maximum time in jail for both charges combined is 6 months. Additional charges, however, can extend the jail sentence; Those with more serious charges, such as smuggling harder drugs and incidences with law enforcement may be given longer sentences.
Smugglers are seen regularly in Southern Arizona. These cases are rather common in the area, according to Border Patrol. It appears that some of these smugglers are making a career of it. Others trade smuggling drugs for the fee that would normally be paid to coyotes to bring them across the border.