The constitutionality of the DTVIA was also challenged on grounds of vagueness, procedural due process, and substantive due process.
Appellants based their argument upon the notion that the DTVIA "redefines" drug trafficking by eliminating the requirement of actual drug-possession.
The court, perhaps to further solidify their opinion, also noted that the protective principle provided "an equally compelling reason to uphold the DTVIA." Specifically:
"Those who engage in conduct the DTVIA targets threaten our nation's security by evading detection while using submersible vessels to smuggle illegal drugs or other contraband, such as illegal weapons, from one country to another, and often into the United States." (74) However, in Ibarguen-Mosquera, the very same court asserted, in response to appellant's due process challenge, the constitutional prohibition against presumption of "an ingredient upon proof of other facts, or shifting certain elements of an offense from an element to an affirmative defense." (75) While the Ibarguen-Mosquera court utilized the same congressional findings to rebut a procedural due process challenge, the Saac court used the findings to affirm their application of the protective principle.
Furthermore, the constitutionality of the DTVIA itself is called into question when viewed in light of what appears to be an ad hoc and cursory application of international law principles.
First, the Eleventh Circuit's conflation of the MDLEA and the DTVIA, and subsequent use of persuasive legislative history is an aggressive, and arguably reactionary judicial attempt to combat the illicit drug trade.
A criminal conviction under the DTVIA is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment in addition to a fine.
Two cases brought under [section] 2285 resulted in conditional guilty pleas, with defense counsel filing motions alleging 1) the extraterritorial application of the DTVIA is unconstitutional and 2) the statutory element requiring a showing that defendant "attempt[ed] to evade detection" is unconstitutionally vague.
The remaining cases of scuttled SPSS vessels are currently pending and are likely to be charged under Title 46, the MDLEA, rather than the DTVIA. In one of those cases, a defendant confessed that drugs were aboard the vessel, thus providing evidence to support a Title 46 charge.
The enactment of the DTVIA is a potentially strong tool to deter the use of SPSS vessels to transport large amounts of drugs into the United States.