A woman from Nevada has been charged for her part in trafficking meth from West Virginia to California. Kelly Newcomb, 56, pled guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime, telling authorities that she rented a car in Las Vegas and drove her codefendant to California. There, 10 pounds of crystal meth were hidden in the car’s spare tires, and the two drove the shipment across the country to West Virginia. She says that she did not find out about the drugs until after they had already started the trip, but continued to drive the vehicle to a motel in Huntington, West Virginia, where she left the car unlocked in the parking lot as directed by another codefendant.
A person who was cooperating with the police, and knew about the drop, shared the information with law enforcement. An undercover officer went to the parking lot of the hotel and found the drugs in the spare tire.
As a result of her role in the transportation of the methamphetamine, Newcomb could spend five years in federal prison.
Is this a fair punishment? Do you think that anyone who takes part in drug trafficking, even if the person is not the mastermind behind the plan, should be incarcerated for as long as five years?
There is a penalty for aiding and abetting someone in a crime, even if you are not the one to come up with the idea or the one to benefit. There is no information as to whether or not Newcomb expected to be compensated for her trouble once she found out that she was in fact transporting meth across state lines. There is also no report of evidence that indicates that she was unaware at any point what it was she was doing.
The judge may not care about that distinction. If she admitted that she knew about it at any point and did not bail out of the arrangement or alert authorities, she still took part. Certainly, there will be a consequence for this choice.
Addiction and Crime
Another question that was not answered was whether or not Newcomb struggles with a drug abuse problem or addiction. Did she feel compelled to take part in the drive because she had no other recourse? Was she spending time with people who traffic in meth because she is living a lifestyle based on drug use and abuse? It is not common for someone to accidentally end up in a drug trafficking situation – that is not to say that it does not happen. There are hundreds of stories of tourists and travelers who had their bags broken into or were otherwise given a package to take home with them that they did not realize had drugs inside. But that does not necessarily seem to be the case for Newcomb. Rather, she found herself in the company of people who do not just use drugs occasionally or recreationally but who also make a living off trafficking pounds of drugs, and it very well may be that this is because she has a personal issue with drug use and abuse.
If that is, in fact, the case, it is important that she have access to addiction treatment. Though she may not have access to federal drug courts due to the nature of the crime, if she is not the mastermind of the project and inadvertently found herself in this situation because of her use of drugs and alcohol in general, connecting her with treatment to help her get back on track will be the most effective way to help her to avoid future problems of this nature.
Helping a Loved One
Many have family members who similarly struggle with drugs or alcohol and often find themselves in situations that they claim were not of their own doing but still managed to get them into trouble. It is not uncommon for women, for example, to end up behind bars because they held drugs for their boyfriend or otherwise took the blame for a drug crime that someone they cared about committed. Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can open up someone who is living with a drug problem to a world of legal consequences. The likelihood of being in the wrong place increases when one is focused on getting and staying high.
The problem is that jail time does not help anyone to address their own drug use issues or to become more independent in any way. Instead, it can further decrease their options when they get out, making it that much harder to address underlying trauma, co-occurring mental health disorders, and other issues that may have been driving addiction in the first place.
If someone you love is struggling due to drug use and abuse, the best way out is treatment. Only when medical detox is followed by intensive therapeutic intervention can someone stop using drugs safely and starting living a life based on healthy choices and progressive movement forward.