U.S. Government Demands Mexican Bus Company Pay Fine for Cocaine Smuggled by Drivers
A bus company is being sued by the federal government for more than $3 million because two of its drivers attempted to smuggle cocaine from Mexico into the United States aboard one of its buses.
Two drivers for bus line Turimex smuggled more than 93 kilos of cocaine into the U.S. in July 2009, resulting in the U.S. Department of Justice going after the bus line, a subsidiary of Grupo Senda.
After Border Patrol agents found and confiscated bags of the drug hidden inside a bus, federal prosecutors threatened to fine Turimex $1,000 per ounce of recovered cocaine. Turimex balked, saying they didn’t know the drugs were on the bus and were thus protected by the Tariiff Act of 1930. However, the wording of the Tariff Act of 1930 only protects ship’s owners and masters. “In this case, Turimex is not entitled to application of this narrow exception because, as the statute expressly provides, the exception applies only to vessels, not vehicles,” according to the complaint.
The government contended it could demand a fine of more than $3 million from the company based on the quantity of the cocaine.
Justice officials first offered to reduce the fine to 15% to win a settlement with company lawyers. When that failed, the government lowered its deal to 10%. Turimex still refused to pay the fine. So, now, the government is suing the bus line for the full $3.36 million.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
USA Demands Tariff on Smuggled Cocaine (by Cameron Langford, Courthouse News Service)
United States v. Turimex (U.S. District Court, Southern Texas) (pdf)
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