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What is Drug Courier Profiling?

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What is drug courier profiling? Why hasn't the Supreme Court not decided on the constitutionality of it? Should race be a factor in drug courier profiling?

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Definition of Drug Courier Profile:

The term "drug courier profiling" is a technique developed by the Drug Enforcement Agency in 1974 during the Nixon era's nation-wide campaign to stop the illicit trafficking of drugs. The DEA developed what they thought best describes what a "drug courier" characteristics are. The "drug courier profile" has been described as "the collective or distilled experience of narcotics officers concerning characteristics repeatedly seen in drug smugglers." (The Role of Race in Law Enforcement: Racial Profiling or Legitimate Use? - Legal Digest FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,The, Nov, 2001 by Richard G. Schott) The "drug courier profile" is used by law enforcement officers when stopping and detaining travelers in airport terminals, bus and train stations, and on the highways.

An example of characteristics that are included in a "drug courier profile" used in airports are:

1. The information regarding the reservation and purchase of air line tickets: The DEA believe that drug couriers rarely make reservations for their flights and purchase the tickets on the day of travel.

2. Included with the "drug courier profile" is the identification of where the incoming flights originated from ("source cities"). Therefore, source cities like Miami, because of its history as being the port of entry for drug couriers from Latin America, became high suspect.

3. The DEA would also regard whether a traveler took a non-stop and direct flights to and from a "source city." They also would suspect any circuitous routes or whether the traveler would change airlines or flights to and from a source city.

4. The DEA also factored into the "drug courier profile" certain behaviors like whether a traveler appears to be nervous. For example if the traveler is walking quickly, walking slowly, or walking erratically it can be considered suspicious. Other behaviors that the DEA conclude are suspicious is if a suspect deplanes and make a local phone call immediately.

5. The DEA consider it suspicious if a traveler does not check in their luggage and primarily only have carry-on luggage.

6. The DEA have also factored in personal characteristics like race and manner of dress.

(Reference: THE DRUG COURIER PROFILE, by CHARLES L. BECTON, North Carolina Law Review MARCH, 1987, 65 N.C.L. Rev. 417)

Case Law on Drug Courier Profiling:

1. United ...

Solution Summary

Drug courier profiling is integrated in this solution, which is 1,679 words long, including example characteristics included in a drug courier profile and the issue of using race in this profile.

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