Smuggling

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Smuggling

The criminal offense of bringing into, or removing from, a country those items that are prohibited or upon which customs or excise duties have not been paid.

Smuggling is the secret movement of goods across national borders to avoid Customs Duties or import or export restrictions. It typically occurs when either the customs duties are high enough to allow a smuggler to make a large profit on the clandestine goods or when there is a strong demand for prohibited goods, such as narcotics or weapons. The United States polices smuggling through various federal agencies, including the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Federal law prohibits the importation of a number of items that are injurious to public health or welfare, including diseased plants or animals, obscene films and magazines, and illegal narcotics. Importation of certain items is prohibited for economic or political purposes. For example, the United States bans trade with Cuba, which means that Cuban cigars may not be legally imported. This restriction inevitably results in the smuggling of Cuban cigars into the United States. Federal law also bans the export of military weapons or items related to the national defense without an export permit.

In addition, federal law prohibits the importation of goods on which required customs or excise duties have not been paid. Such duties are fixed by federal law to raise revenue and to influence commerce.

Travelers at international borders can properly be stopped by customs agents, required to identify themselves, and asked to submit to a search. To combat smuggling, customs agents have the authority to search an individual and his baggage or any packages or containers sent into the country. Within the United States, police cannot conduct searches unless they have a warrant, Probable Cause to suspect unlawful activity, or the consent of the individual being searched. Such requirements do not apply to border searches. Customs agents have a right to search anyone at a border for no reason at all, although they ordinarily only conduct extensive and thorough searches of individuals who arouse suspicion. By the late 1990s, new technology, including x-ray machines that examine commercial vehicles, had been installed by the Border Patrol at border stations in the Southwest. The DEA has also enhanced its technology for combating smuggling in the Southwest through Wiretapping of drug cartel members. In addition, law enforcement agencies have developed "drug courier profiles" that help customs agents identify and question individuals who are likely to be carriers of narcotics.

Smugglers use two methods to move goods. One is to move cargoes undetected across borders. Smugglers move illegal narcotics from Mexico into remote areas of the Southwest United States using airplanes, trucks, and human "mules." These "mules" walk across an isolated region of the Mexico-U.S. border with backpacks full of illegal narcotics.

The other method is one of concealment. For example, a smuggler may hide illegal narcotics in unlikely places on ships or cars, in baggage or cargo, or on a person. Some drug couriers swallow containers of narcotics to avoid detection of the drugs if searched.

In the event that a traveler possesses anything that he or she did not declare to customs inspectors, or any prohibited items, the traveler can be compelled to pay the required duties, plus penalties, and can also be arrested. Customs agents can seize the illegal goods.

Federal law imposes harsh sanctions for the offense of smuggling. An individual can be convicted merely for having illegal goods in his or her possession if she or he fails to adequately explain their presence. Anyone who is guilty of knowingly smuggling any goods that are prohibited by law or that should have come through customs, or who receives, buys, sells, transports, or aids in the commission of one of these acts can be charged with a felony and can also be assessed civil penalties. The merchandise itself, as well as any vessel or vehicle used to transport it, can be forfeited to the United States under Forfeiture proceedings.

Further readings

Drug Enforcement Administration. Available online at <www.usdoj.gov/dea/> (accessed August 12, 2003).

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. 2000. National Drug Control Strategy: 2000 Annual Report. Washington, D.C.: GPO.

Cross-references

Drugs and Narcotics; Search and Seizure.

SMUGGLING. The fraudulent taking into a country, or out of it, merchandise which is lawfully prohibited. Bac. Ab. h.t.

References in classic literature ?
Would I take Scotty, the runaway sailor, to visit the harpooner, on the opium- smuggler Idler?
So it wasn't Dona Rita, it wasn't Blunt, it wasn't the Pretender with his big infectious laugh, it wasn't all that lot of politicians, archbishops, and generals, of monks, guerrilleros, and smugglers by sea and land, of dubious agents and shady speculators and undoubted swindlers, who were pushing their fortunes at the risk of their precious skins.
Evidently he belonged to the class of smugglers who ply their trade without resorting to violent courses, and who only exert patience and craft to defraud the government.
He must wrestle with something; whenever he is not risking his neck he is at odds with society, he lends a helping hand to smugglers. The rogue will cross the Rhone, all by himself, in a little boat, to take shoes over into Savoy; he makes good his retreat, heavy laden as he is, to some inaccessible place high up among the hills, where he stays for two days at a time, living on dry crusts.
Hence the smugglers habitually consorted with the debtors (who received them with open arms), except at certain constitutional moments when somebody came from some Office, to go through some form of overlooking something which neither he nor anybody else knew anything about.
They are, perhaps, in truth, a little disposed to be smugglers, but what harm is in that?
She told him quaint little stories of the smugglers, of wrecks, and the legends of the fisher people.
First three search operations conducted near Motorway Toll Plaza Peshawar wherein the alleged smuggler Nigar was arrested and 300grams hashish besides 300grams opium were recovered from secret cavities of his car.
A bid to smuggle more than eight kilogram cannabis of high quality was foiled on Thursday here by Ustarzai police team and the smuggler was arrested.
Provincial Excise Intelligence during a snap checking, arrested an alleged smuggler and recovered twenty kilograms of hashish on Monday.
PESHAWAR -- KP Excise recovered 20 KG hashish from alleged Islamabad police personnel Provincial Excise Intelligence during a snap checking, arrested an alleged smuggler and recovered twenty kilograms of hashish on Monday.
A case was registered against the smuggler with the ANF Police Station while further investigation is on, sources said.