Notorious West Texas Drug Checkpoint Detains Rapper

The infamous border patrol stop along I-10 in West Texas - otherwise known as the Sierra Blanca checkpoint - recently claimed its latest celebrity detainee, the rapper Nelly.

The 37-year-old rapper and six other passengers were detained at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint as they were traveling by bus to Atlanta. According to MTV, they were all detained after a police dog allegedly discovered 0.64 ounces of heroin and 10.4 pounds of marijuana on the bus.

Nelly and five of the other passengers were subsequently released after the sixth passenger claimed the substances actually belonged to him. In a statement to the Associated Press, Nelly said, "Neither I nor anyone else on the tour bus was aware of his decision to bring these." The sixth passenger was consequently arrested following the checkpoint stop.

The Sierra Blanca checkpoint has been notorious over the years for nabbing celebrities for alleged drug possession. The long list of stars detained include Armie Hammer, Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson, who was arrested in 2010 after police discovered around six ounces of marijuana in his possession. Most recently, singer Fiona Apple was allegedly found with both hashish and marijuana roughly a month before Nelly was detained. The incident resulted in Apple cancelling her Austin City Limits taping.

possible drug possession penalties

Getting detained for drug possession at drug checkpoints and ports of entry in Texas is a very serious matter. Not only may the detainee be charged with drug possession, but depending on the circumstances and amount of illegal substances allegedly found in their possession, they may face charges related to drug distribution and trafficking or possibly drug smuggling - all of which carry severe criminal penalties.

Drug possession can be charged under Texas or federal law. When it comes to the possible penalties available for drug possession, it is dependent on the amount and type of drug allegedly possessed. For example, possession of less than two ounces of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, two to four ounces is a Class A misdemeanor and more than four ounces is a felony.

Comparatively, if a person is charged with cocaine possession, simply having less than one gram of cocaine in your possession has a maximum penalty of 180 in jail and a $10,000 fine. Having more than 400 grams of cocaine carries a punishment of up to a $100,000 fine and up to 99 years incarcerated.

As indicated by the penalties outlined above, criminal charges stemming from alleged drug possession can be both severe and complex in Texas. If you find yourself charged with a criminal drug possession crime in Texas, it may be best to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney with knowledge in both Texas and federal drug possession law.