Cocaine Found in Car Purchased at Auction, Family Members Arrested on Drug Trafficking Charges

CC image Wikipedia.orgWhen Sergio Torres bought a van for $3,900 through a friend at a Customs and Border Protection auction last year, he thought he was getting a great deal. Turns out, he may have ended up getting more than he bargained for.

Torre’s son and a friend were recently stopped at a police checkpoint while on their way to a soccer match near Mazatlan, Mexico. To everyone’s surprise, police located 2.2 pounds of cocaine under the dashboard during the routine search.

Sergio Torres Duarte and his friend Julio Cesar Moreno were soon thrown in jail and brought up on drug trafficking charges, but Torres Duarte’s father said they are innocent. He believes the cocaine was inside the vehicle when he purchased it from Customs and Border Patrol.

Collecting Evidence

Torres was hellbent on proving his son’s innocent, so he began looking deeper into the vehicle’s history. He believes the information he’s found is more than enough evidence to exonerate his son.

  • Torres learned that U.S. customs agents confiscated the van.
  • Agents found five packages of cocaine while inspecting the vehicle.
  • Every package had the word “Good” written on it in black marker. The package seized by agents when Torres’ son was in the car also had the word “Good” written on it.
  • U.S. officials wrote a letter to Mexican prosecutors, saying Torres Duarte “could have had the cocaine without knowing when he was arrested driving the car.”

Although officials at the federal courthouse in Mazatlan are barred from speaking about the case, prosecutors have asked for more time to prepare their case, so it appears the ordeal may see a courtroom. Torres says common sense needs to prevail, especially since the package that was discovered is identical to the packages that were seized during the Customs search.

“We are so angry. We have all of the proof,” said Torres. “What else do they want?”

Torres added that the incident kept the teens from graduating with the rest of their high school class this summer.

“They are completely depressed, tired, desperate and anxious,” Torres said.

Similar Situation

Most police officers are familiar with the excuse, “Those aren’t my drugs, I’ve never seen those before,” but there have been legitimate cases where individuals have transported drugs on accident. We blogged about an Arizona mother who was cleared of marijuana charges after video evidence showed she had no idea there was 12 pounds of pot underneath her bus seat during a trip across the border.

Similarly, in 2002, Mexican soldiers arrested two men after they found 22 packages of marijuana in a hidden compartment in an SUV the pair was driving. Just like Torres, the van was bought at a government auction. An appeals court threw out a five-year prison sentence after determining that the drugs had been located in the SUV since a previous drug bust.

Related source: NBC News

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Avery Appelman is a criminal defense lawyer and the founder of Appelman Law Firm. While his practice is primarily recognized for its work with DWI and related offenses, he has 16 years of experience working with clients on drug, assault, theft, traffic, criminal sexual conduct, and prostitution charges.

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