Drug trafficking is one of the most serious charges in the US, more so if it involves another crime like possession of illegal firearms and violence. Trafficking laws target illegal importation, transport, and selling of illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Drug trafficking is a felony under state and federal law, no matter what state you are charged in.
Drug trafficking penalties depend on the type and amount of drugs involved, the geographical location and size of the distribution, and if there are minors targeted by the drug trafficker’s acts. If you are found with drugs and large amounts of money you could be open to drug distribution or trafficking charges that result in serious penalties.
Drug trafficking penalties also apply for controlled substances other than illegal drugs, ones for which you can obtain a prescription. Anabolic steroids and drugs containing opiates are examples of controlled substances that can be obtained with a prescription. This means their selling and distribution is regulated by law.
Types of drugs
The US Drug Enforcement Agency has classified drugs and controlled substances into schedules. Each schedule attracts different penalties according to the amount and the number of times the offender has been apprehended for trafficking narcotics.
Schedule I – LSD, Marijuana, Fentanyl analog, and Heroine
Schedule II – Cocaine, cocaine base, Fentanyl, Methamphetamines, PCP
These drugs attract penalties from 10-20 years for the first offense depending on whether there was death or bodily harm involved when trafficking the drugs. A fine of $10 million applies for an individual and $50 million for an organization.
A second offense attracts between 20 yrs and life imprisonment depending on whether there was death or serious bodily harm involved in the trafficking. A fine of $20 million applies for an individual and $75 million for an organization.
A third or subsequent charge in drug trafficking attracts life imprisonment, and a fine of $20 million applies for an individual and $75 million for an organization.
The DEA has crafted special penalties for marijuana according to the amount involved and surrounding circumstances.
1000 plants or kilos and higher attracts 10 yrs to life depending on whether there was death or bodily harm involved. A fine of a maximum $10 million applies for an individual and $50 million for an organization. This is for the first offense. A second fine attracts 20 yrs to life and fines between $20-75 million.
100 plants or kilos attract 5 yrs to life for the first offense and a fine between 10 yrs to life for the second offense.
50 kilos or plants attract a maximum of 5 years imprisonment and $250,000 fine for the first offense. A second offense gets 10 years and a fine of $500,000.
The Importance of an Attorney
For these types of charges, hiring a drug trafficking lawyer is a no-brainer. In all reality, if you don’t hire someone to fight for your rights, you can expect prosecutors to try and railroad you till you are in prison for far longer than you should be.