Drug Mule's Cocaine Pellets Burst on Plane

Colmin Smith, age 48, was flying from Antigua to London with 239 grams of cocaine (about 1/2 pound) in pellets in his stomach. Shortly after the packed Virgin Atlantic flight took off, the pellets burst. He managed to tell a flight attendant right before he lost consciousness.

The plane made an emergency landing in Bermuda, where medics performed emergency surgery at the airport, and then took him to the hospital. He survived, and then had to face the judge.

The penalty: No jail, just a fine of 417 pounds (about $700.00). Why did he catch such a break? [More...]

The prosecutor explained to the media afterwards:

‘There was no evidence that the drug was to be peddled on Bermuda's streets so he could only be charged with possession. ‘If he had been found guilty of supplying the narcotics he would have been banged up for life.

‘He is one very lucky man. He came close to losing his life, either by overdose or by life sentence.

The judge told him:

Senior magistrate Archibald Warner told Smith he should ‘thank his lucky stars’ he was here to face charges rather than dead.... ‘You should thank whoever you worship, or look to, because you are really lucky. ‘You didn't come to the first heaven, but you came to Bermuda, the second heaven.’

Smith paid his fine, and with the help of the British embassy, flew back home.

He is indeed lucky. These two Americans weren't so lucky in Bermuda last year, when they did the swallowed similar amounts.

I wonder what the outcome would have been if the plane landed in Miami instead of Bermuda. Would DOJ and the DEA have said since he knowingly possessed the drugs, and he was inside the U.S. when the drugs were removed from his stomach, he's guilty of possession with intent to distribute -- regardless of where he intended to distribute them?

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  • Display: Sort:
    No wondering necessary, Jeralyn. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:28:42 AM EST
    They would have bigfooted the mule.  Godzilla vs. Bambi.  Laughs all around the table where the assistant prosecutors are assigned cases.  Smirks from the Judge when he contemplates the ill luck that landed the unfortunate in the Land of the Free.  Chuckles from the B.O.P. as they manacle another $29,000/year billing unit.  

    And complete silence from an uncomprehending populace that still has no idea how any of this is supposed to protect us from anything.

    That's a big dose of disrespect for (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:54:26 AM EST
    our federal judiciary. Unwarranted, IMO.

    Totally warranted imo... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 09:22:37 AM EST
    Granted, the original sin lies with Congress (and the voters who staff it), but the judiciary is on board the sin bandwagon.  Our mass incarceration epidemic is a three-pronged government effort...legislative, executive, judiciary.

    (Sigh!) What some people ... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 03:44:10 AM EST
    ... will do for a perceived windfall. And at age 48, Mr. Smith can't even claim as an excuse that he was young and stupid. He is indeed a very lucky man, and should take advantage of his recent good fortune and make something useful of his life. I suppose any number of us have stories to tell about a potential wrong turn in life which could have otherwise ended very badly, were it not for a fortunate break which allowed us to somehow correct our course and make things right again.

    Anyway, I just want to say that I really appreciate the often thankless work you do as a criminal defense attorney. I served as the chief clerk for the judiciary committees in both the State House and State Senate, and I can't begin to tell you how many truly outrageous ideas about criminal law crossed my desk over the years, most all of which were wholly punitive in the author's desire to exact some sort of vengeance and retribution on behalf of society. Even though 95% of bad legislation eventually does get eighty-sixed, suffice to say that generally, state legislators aren't inclined to make your job as defense counsel any easier.

    People can and do sometimes show the most appalling personal judgment in both the company they choose to keep, and the things they will do accordingly under such questionable influences. Not all of them can be necessarily categorized as so-called "bad people;" they were just incredibly and blindingly stupid at a particular moment in time.

    It's attorneys such as yourself who ensure that at least a few of them will catch that aforementioned break, and thus enjoy an opportunity to hit life's reset button. What they do afterward with that second chance, and whether or not they choose to prove themselves worthy of such consideration, is all up to them.


    I am for legalization. (none / 0) (#2)
    by lentinel on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:04:21 AM EST
    That would eliminate this kind of trafficking.
    Not to mention that the consumer would have an idea of what they are consuming.

    I have also read that pure cocaine has a very mild and smooth descent. In short, there is no problem of withdrawal - and the related resorting to alcohol to numb the descent - or the need to keep snorting in order to avoid the depression of withdrawal.

    This should be another matter between a consumer and - if an intermediary is necessary - a doctor, not a dealer.

    In a related note, I think it is important that the Times came out for legalization of marijuana, but their editorial has the caveat that it should only be legal for people over 21.

    That will insure the continuation of a class of teenage criminals - and the continued collateral instruction of contempt for law.

    Withdrawal is rarely "medically" serious (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:30:02 AM EST
    Per WebMD. The mental effects could be serious.

    Note:  further reading at this site includes "addiction to baseball."


    No more than (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:38:59 AM EST
    Addiction to tv.   There is something for everyone to scroll past.

    Yes... (none / 0) (#7)
    by lentinel on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:54:28 AM EST
    The "mental" effects are minimized when one is using cocaine in its pure form. That is what I have read.

    I do know that the stuff that is sold by dealers is mixed with all kinds of stuff - including amphetamines - which cause the sense of deadly depression felt by those coming down. And causes the user to keep ingesting in order to avoid the crash.

    Interesting that you alluded to "addiction to baseball'.
    That goes along with my belief that people are addicted to all kinds of things that give them a sense of relief or meaning - and there is no social stigma attached to them.

    I believe that some people, like myself, sometimes experience a sense of addiction to TalkLeft... noticeably when the site was down for a number of hours and the psychic withdrawal symptoms started to appear...