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Smuggling

SMUGGLING

The criminal offense of bringing into, or removing from, a country those items that are prohibited or upon which customs or excise duties have not been paid.

Smuggling is the secret movement of goods across national borders to avoid customs duties or import or export restrictions. It typically occurs when either the customs duties are high enough to allow a smuggler to make a large profit on the clandestine goods or when there is a strong demand for prohibited goods, such as narcotics or weapons. The United States polices smuggling through various federal agencies, including the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the drug enforcement administration (DEA).

Federal law prohibits the importation of a number of items that are injurious to public health or welfare, including diseased plants or animals, obscene films and magazines, and illegal narcotics. Importation of certain items is prohibited for economic or political purposes. For example, the United States bans trade with Cuba, which means that Cuban cigars may not be legally imported. This restriction inevitably results in the smuggling of Cuban cigars into the United States. Federal law also bans the export of military weapons or items related to the national defense without an export permit.

In addition, federal law prohibits the importation of goods on which required customs or excise duties have not been paid. Such duties are fixed by federal law to raise revenue and to influence commerce.

Travelers at international borders can properly be stopped by customs agents, required to identify themselves, and asked to submit to a search. To combat smuggling, customs agents have the authority to search an individual and his baggage or any packages or containers sent into the country. Within the United States, police cannot conduct searches unless they have a warrant, probable cause to suspect unlawful activity, or the consent of the individual being searched. Such requirements do not apply to border searches. Customs agents have a right to search anyone at a border for no reason at all, although they ordinarily only conduct extensive and thorough searches of individuals who arouse suspicion. By the late 1990s, new technology, including x-ray machines that examine commercial vehicles, had been installed by the Border Patrol at border stations in the Southwest. The DEA has also enhanced its technology for combating smuggling in the Southwest through wiretapping of drug cartel members. In addition, law enforcement agencies have developed "drug courier profiles" that help customs agents identify and question individuals who are likely to be carriers of narcotics.

Smugglers use two methods to move goods. One is to move cargoes undetected across borders. Smugglers move illegal narcotics from Mexico into remote areas of the Southwest United States using airplanes, trucks, and human "mules." These "mules" walk across an

isolated region of the Mexico-U.S. border with backpacks full of illegal narcotics.

The other method is one of concealment. For example, a smuggler may hide illegal narcotics in unlikely places on ships or cars, in baggage or cargo, or on a person. Some drug couriers swallow containers of narcotics to avoid detection of the drugs if searched.

In the event that a traveler possesses anything that he or she did not declare to customs inspectors, or any prohibited items, the traveler can be compelled to pay the required duties, plus penalties, and can also be arrested. Customs agents can seize the illegal goods.

Federal law imposes harsh sanctions for the offense of smuggling. An individual can be convicted merely for having illegal goods in his or her possession if she or he fails to adequately explain their presence. Anyone who is guilty of knowingly smuggling any goods that are prohibited by law or that should have come through customs, or who receives, buys, sells, transports, or aids in the commission of one of these acts can be charged with a felony and can also be assessed civil penalties. The merchandise itself, as well as any vessel or vehicle used to transport it, can be forfeited to the United States under forfeiture proceedings.

further readings

Drug Enforcement Administration. Available online at <www.usdoj.gov/dea/> (accessed August 12, 2003).

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. 2000. National Drug Control Strategy: 2000 Annual Report. Washington, D.C.: GPO.

cross-references

Drugs and Narcotics; Search and Seizure.

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"Smuggling." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Smuggling." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/smuggling

smuggling

smuggling, illegal transport across state or national boundaries of goods or persons liable to customs or to prohibition. Smuggling has been carried on in nearly all nations and has occasionally been adopted as an instrument of national policy, as by Great Britain against Spain and France in the 18th and 19th cent. The restrictive economic policies of mercantilism in the 17th and 18th cent. gave rise to smuggling in France, the Spanish colonies, and North America. British attempts to halt the practice by stringent enforcement of the Navigation Acts were a contributory cause of the American Revolution. Napoleon's decrees attempting to seal off the European continent from British commerce gave rise to widespread smuggling in the early 19th cent. Britain, source of free-trade philosophy, has been more liberal in her antismuggling laws than other nations; the practice was condoned in a famous passage by Adam Smith. Smuggling into the United States flourished in the prohibition era and was carried on practically with impunity from overseas and overland from Canada. Illegal entry of immigrants into the United States has also presented a problem during periods of curtailment of immigration, as at the end of World War I and in recent years. Luxury articles, stolen art and other goods, electronic devices and software, and specifically prohibited items such as narcotics are smuggled worldwide. The U.S. Coast Guard has the suppression of smuggling as one of its chief activities. U.S. law declares the article smuggled to be forfeit and the smuggler liable to a fine or imprisonment, or both. Examples of the smuggling of persons are the slave trade to the United States and Latin America following its outlawing by the great powers in the early 19th cent. and the traffic in women for immoral purposes, contrary to international convention.

See J. J. Farjeon, The Compleat Smuggler (1938); N. Williams, Contraband Cargoes (1959); T. Green, The Smugglers (1969); H. Waters, Smugglers of Spirits (1971).

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"smuggling." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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smuggling

smuggling refers to covert movement of goods into or out of the country in order to evade taxes or limitations on imports or exports, and involves practical difficulties relating to clandestine activity and risks of detection by customs and excise. It was so extensive and organized in the 18th cent. as to be considered a trade in its own right, but one able to benefit rather than suffer by the disruption of war. If hampered by high naval presence in inshore waters, smugglers could flourish when the navy's forces were stretched and revenue officers corrupt. The 1740s and 1770s were accordingly profitable, and Wesley found his congregation at Rye in 1773 intensely reluctant to stop the habit. Although the gangs were predominantly comprised of labourers or artisans, who regarded the practice as a legitimate part of the local economy, the contraband reached all sections of society. The risks entailed encouraged ingenuity: Horace Walpole's jacket came via a banker cousin in Paris, probably in the diplomatic bag; in 1792 Parson Woodforde had to hide tubs of rum and brandy since he was liable to a £10 fine for each illicit purchase under 19 Geo. III c. 69 (which not only fined the supplier £50 but deliberately encouraged ‘informing’); more recently, weapon parts have been disguised as engineering components, and clothes have been impregnated with powdered drugs. Flourishing wherever there are high duties (luxuries like silk, spices, wines and spirits, and tea in the 18th cent.), bans, or embargoes (narcotics in the 20th cent., arms in all periods), estimates of the value of the trade, of the loss of revenue to government, and of damage to individuals or businesses can only be conjectural.

Ian John Ernest Keil

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"smuggling." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"smuggling." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved October 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/smuggling