Youth in drug bust to return to Mexico
By Jane Beathard
A 16-year-old youth who was arrested on Interstate 71 in December with cash and 704 parceled doses of heroin in his car is headed home to Mexico, following a hearing in Madison County Juvenile Court on Monday.
The boy, who is slightly built and appears younger than 16, was originally charged with trafficking heroin. On Monday, he pleaded guilty to a reduced felony charge as part of an arrangement with the county prosecutor’s office. The conviction could have sent the teen to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until age 21.
“I will leave it up to you and God,” the boy told Judge Glenn Hamilton through an interpreter.
Hamilton credited the boy with time served in the local juvenile detention facility and agreed to his release to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation.
The judge also ordered the sheriff to confiscate the 2003 Honda Accord the boy was driving at his arrest, as well as $485 in cash found in the vehicle.
Prior to sentencing, defense attorney Thomas Arrington told Hamilton his client is from southwest Mexico and was lured into the heroin trade by false promises.
“He is extremely frightened,” Arrington said.
Senior drug dealers told the boy he could earn significant dollars with little risk of punishment by distributing the foil-wrapped balls of heroin in the United States. The boy didn’t understand what was inside the balls.
“He knew it was illegal,” Arrington said. “But he was told he would not go to prison if arrested.”
Since arriving in the Columbus area, the boy dispatched “large amounts of money” to his family in Mexico. He now plans to complete high school and seek a career in the military or law enforcement south of the border, Arrington said.
“He has no desire to come back to the U.S.,” the attorney added.
The boy cried at Monday’s hearing, as did some court staff members who consider him a victim of human trafficking.
He hugged his arresting officer, Lt. Eric Semler, and thanked Arrington for speaking on his behalf.
In exchange, Arrington headed to London’s McDonald’s restaurant to procure a Big Mac meal for his client. Big Macs are a favorite of the young felon, Semler said.