He was a multimillionaire hotelier who had been connected romantically to famous women like Lindsay Lohan and Padma Lakshmi.
Our Fort Lauderdale drug crimes defense lawyers wonder if he believed all that would somehow insulate him from scrutiny as authorities say he attempted to board a commercial flight with a host of controlled substances, including heroin, cocaine, clonazepam, buprenophrine, Xanax, lorazepam, ketamine and marijuana. In all, he faces eight charges, including one for trafficking of heroin and seven more for possession of a controlled substance.
News reports indicate the Dream South Beach Hotel owner was stopped by Transportation Security Administration at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
We can’t attest to the validity of the charges, but we do know that far too many people make the mistake of assuming they will have no problem slipping by TSA with drugs or other illegal substances.
The reality is that in the 12 years since 9/11, airport security has gotten unquestionably more adept and aggressive with regard to catching illegal activities. The fact that this individual is a foreign national means he would inevitably garner a greater level of scrutiny.
That’s not to say nobody has ever gotten away with it. Getting away with it once or twice might even lead to a false level of confidence that brings about a situation like this. Unfortunately, your rights at the airport are not quite the same as your rights on the streets in terms of stops and searches.
For example, if you are on the street. In your vehicle, you have a degree of reasonable expectation of privacy. Therefore, an officer may only stop you on the basis of reasonable suspicion. That is, the officer either witnessed a crime or could reasonably infer that a crime was already or is about to be committed. In order to search your vehicle or property, the officer must have probable cause.
Conversely, at the airport, your expectation of privacy significantly diminishes. First of all, you expect that your persons and property will be subject to search before you board the plane by TSA agents.
However, even if you pass through screening without so much as a raised eyebrow, you can be stopped by immigration officers, TSA agents or customs agents at ANY time. They can do this on the basis of your travel itinerary or citizenship or suspicious activity and they have the right to temporarily detain you and search your belongings. These agents may NOT stop you solely on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, age, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
These officers have the right to question you with regard to where you are going and what items you may be carrying with you – specifically, weapons and/or drugs. However, your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent is still very much in effect. You do not have to answer any questions and you have the right to ask for an attorney.
TSA agents are given a broad range of powers – and they have a well-earned reputation for overstepping their boundaries and abusing it.
Anyone who is arrested for a crime at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport should seek defense counsel immediately, as you could potentially be facing years behind bars. The sooner you get a defense lawyer on your case, the better.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
Wealthy hotelier arrested at Broward airport, April 4, 2013, By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Florida v. Harris – Police K-9 Powers Affirmed, March 3, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Blog