I defended a young man on a drug case recently who could have been my son. This young man, let’s call him “Mason”, went to a club in Tijuana to have some fun. He was not yet 21, but he was over 18 which allowed him to go “clubbing” legally in Mexico. Mason had a few beers and saw a girl (let’s call her Jenny”) looking his direction in a very interested way. Mason looked over his shoulder and saw nobody else. “She’s looking at me!” And apparently she was, for all the wrong reasons.
Mason approached Jenny and had a great time dancing and carrying on. Jenny told Mason that she would like to see him again and gave him her email to contact her. Jenny also introduced Mason to her “cousins” that were at the club that night. “Gee, they sure are friendly!” thought Mason. Jenny said her goodbyes at the end of the night and asked Mason to email her and come see her again in Tijuana. “Mason, I can’t cross the border, will you come to see me?” Mason was on cloud nine. “Wow, this girl really likes me!”
Mason told his parents that he was going out that next weekend. But mom and dad did not with whom, or where he was going. “He is a young man, why should I ask?” thought mom. So Mason went to Tijuana, crossing the border with his Sentri card. It was easy and on the other side of the border his true love waited for him.
Soon Mason became fast friends with the family of cousins and friends. So much so, that one day Jenny asked Mason if he could do her a favor. “My uncle cannot cross the border and there is a man that owes him money and if you could pick it up for him, I would be so happy.” So Mason did just as he was told. At first he thought the 24 hour fitness was an unusual place to meet the man he only knew as “El Pelon” or the bald one. But it was easy, so easy that he started transporting the money across the border weekly, then several times a week.
It finally dawned on Mason that the money was probably drug proceeds. “But I am just bringing money across the border, and that is not illegal.” Mason continued for some time, because he was happy and having fun.
One day Jenny’s cousins told Mason to meet them at a fancy restaurant in Tijuana to have a feast. This place was so fancy that it had valet parking. “We got it” said the cousins, “just let them park it.” So they had their feast and a real good time. At the end of the night Mason got his car back from the valet. Something seemed different, but he could not place his finger on it. The valets must have looked around, but Mason had nothing to take from his 2003 Nissan Sentra. It is a good reliable car, but not too fancy, just reliable.
Happily, Mason went down the road to cross the border. Nothing out of the ordinary. Custom had the narcotics dogs out, but that did not bother Mason. That is until he was directed to Secondary inspection. There the US Customs officer asked Mason to go to a room to wait. Mason waited for over an hour when two ICE agents came in to the room. “Tell us where you were taking the drugs?” asked one of the agents. “How much were you going to be paid?” Mason was shocked. “How could they?” Mason had not been naturalized as a US citizen, but he had a green card and had been in the U.S. since he was nine.
How could they indeed. How could his parents not ask Mason, as long as Mason lived in their home, who he was hanging out with on the weekends. Parents should know that the most dangerous of years in a young man’s life, in this defense attorney’s opinion are 18-25 years of age. Mason’s life was changed forever. I did help him tremendously. But it was not easy. And this may be the way I make my living, but it is sometimes harder than others. It always makes me want to be closer to my kids. I encourage you parents out there to ask your kids “who are you going to see? And where are you going?” Yes, there are more clever ways to track these things. Call me and we can talk.
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