HOW COULD A FAMOUS ARCHITECT CAUGHT WITH 13 POUNDS OF COCAINE RECEIVE ONLY SIX MONTHS JAIL?

Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney applauds Federal Judges who use their discretion to construct fair sentences under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines range. 

Architect Drug Mule
Architect Eugenio Velazquez

A California Federal Judge recently sentenced a famous Tijuana architect who designed some of the city’s most beautiful landmarks including it’s modern Cathedral as well as Tijuana’s iconic, possibly ironic, Police station. The hapless architect was caught entering the United States with nearly 13 pounds of cocaine hidden in his minivan. 

That weight of cocaine in the Middle District of Tampa, Florida easily nets a Defendant at least a ten year minimum mandatory sentence with the possibility of additional time under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, whichever results with the higher number. A Defendant with no criminal history can benefit from the federal safety valve provision permitting the Judge to pierce the minimum mandatory, but it gives only a two level drop from the guideline score range, which easily is over ten years on thirteen pounds of cocaine.

So why and how did the California Federal District Judge go under the Federal Sentencing Range? 

The Defendant claimed that drug traffickers threatened his life if he refused their demands to take the drugs over the border. Plus it helped that the Defendant had led up a ‘good life’ before his arrest. After all, Judges one hopes, are human.

Press Reports note that the Judge took into account the fact that the  Defendant verified the threats against him:

The judge said the ability of Velazquez to verify threats against him were crucial to the reduced sentence. He was also acknowledged for leading “a good life” until his arrest.
The architect, fearful of drug-fueled violence in Tijuana, accepted his client’s offer to provide personal security while Velazquez crossed the border between home and work.Then the client — unnamed in the filing — demanded pay of $40,000 or drive drugs across the border….
Velazquez’s attorney told reporters after the sentencing that a friend verified the claims for U.S. investigators. Both men said they were threatened at gunpoint.

As Mexican cartels move cocaine north from South America, they rely on “mules” to hide small packages of drugs in vehicle compartments and on their bodies to get past U.S. inspectors on the Mexico border. Many couriers are young, poor or adrift, desperate for a few hundred dollars.

To persuade the sentencing Judge to give a fair sentence, Clearwater Criminal Lawyers must first establish that the Defendant has lived a ‘good life’ then present facts in mitigation at sentencing with verifiable evidence.