Operation Cocoon

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection Agency are working together to combat a new trend of drug traffickers who fool seniors into becoming international drug mules.  Traffickers either forge a relationship with seniors or promise inheritance or other monetary incentives.  In targeting the elderly, traffickers hope that the drugs pass through security undetected.  This scheme has worked to some degree because eighty-three U.S. citizens who fell victim to drug trafficking tricks have been arrested in foreign countries since 2013.

Operation Cocoon, an initiative to identify seniors before leaving the U.S. as drug mules,  has been successful in preventing some seniors from boarding international flights and facing jail time in a foreign country.  According to the New York Times, approximately 272 kilograms of methamphetamine, 209 kilograms of cocaine, 4 kilograms of ecstasy, and 11 kilograms of heroin have been confiscated under Operation Cocoon.

Some seniors, though, have not been so lucky.  One such man, J. Bryon Martin, is now serving a six-year jail term abroad for smuggling almost 2 kilograms of cocaine.  Mr. Martin, a seventy-seven-year-old retired pastor from Maine, met an individual he knew as “Joy,” who eventually asked for his help in transporting what he thought were real estate papers.  Mr. Martin trusted “Joy” because they had an online relationship for about five years before she asked him to travel to Peru and then onto London.  During Mr. Martin’s layover in Spain, authorities opened up the packages thought to contain paperwork, and found the drugs.

Operation Cocoon has helped prevent many seniors from traveling abroad as drug mules, but there is still progress that needs to be made.  One challenge for authorities is the fact that drug traffickers are not typically located within U.S. borders.  Traffickers are also savvy and seem to know ways in avoiding detection.

The initiative must start at home: caring for our elderly and choosing the best care specialists is essential in preventing our older loved ones from being victimized.  If you or someone you know faces criminal charges, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal law attorney.  Contact Wendy Pelle-Beer & Associates at (718) 313-0770 for the representation you deserve.

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