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Trucker from Washington denies federal drug charges

After being indicted on federal drug charges for alleged drug trafficking, a 38-year-old male from Washington pleaded not guilty. The man works as a truck driver, and the drug charges stem from an incident in which he was stopped for a commercial vehicle inspection in April. The Nevada Highway Patrol claims that the man hid controlled substances in his truck.

According to police, an officer stopped the trucker on the White Pine County stretch of U.S. Highway 6 and the man agreed to a vehicle search. In addition to a cargo of watermelons, the officer allegedly found a duffle bag in the driver's sleeping compartment. Inside the bag was a large quantity of drugs wrapped in plastic. The driver now stands charged of possessing six pounds of heroin and 26 pounds of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

These charges carry the potential for a heavy sentence of anywhere from 10 years to life imprisonment as well as a fine that may reach $10 million. Possession charges that include intent to distribute carry harsher sentences than regular possession-only charges do. Many current statutes also muddy the line between trafficking and personal use, which may turn court juries against wrongly accused individuals.

Drug crime convictions can change people's lives for the worse. Increasingly harsh penalties for possessing larger quantities of drugs and arrest quotas may even make it harder for the accused to escape wrongful punishment and avoid the stigma of drug convictions. As a result, many accused individuals seek legal assistance to structure their defense arguments and thus improve their chances in court.

Source: NBC KHQ Q6, "WA truck driver faces US drug charges in Nevada", May 04, 2013