5 Types of Federal Drug Trafficking Crimes: Penalties & Charges According to Federal Attorneys in South Florida

in this photo 2 men are opening up a tire that is filled with bags of drugs. Federal drug trafficking charges often happen when people transport drugs this way.What is federal drug trafficking?

Federal drug trafficking occurs when an individual exports/imports illegal drugs across state borders or from one country to another.

Compared to drug possession crimes, the state or federal prosecutors must prove that the user had intent to sell or distribute the drugs they had. Several indicators that can be used in court include scales, baggies, cash, ledges, a large amount of drugs, witness testimonies, and evidence of many people going in and out of a house (FeldmanRoyle, n.d.). 

These factors can either aid a defendant in their case, or be used against them to further incriminate. The federal prosecutors must then prove beyond the burden of proof that the defendant was trafficking drugs across state lines or internationally.


Federal Penalties for Drug Trafficking

Consequences of drug smuggling depend upon several factors. If the crime was committed at the federal level, the sentencing period can be enhanced. Also, depending on how many grams and what specific type of drug was trafficked, the fines and incarceration penalties can be increased. Typically, an individual can face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison as a penalty for federal drug trafficking crimes if convicted.


Federal Marijuana Trafficking Penalties

Marijuana plants are pictured. If caught federally trafficking marijuana, you'll need a federal defense attorneyMarijuana trafficking is a first-degree felony in the state of Florida, in which an individual has intent to distribute, manufacture, or dispense to another individual. If a person is caught committing a federal marijuana trafficking crime with 50 kilograms or less of marijuana, they can face 5 years in federal prison and fines range from $250,000 all the way to $1 million

These penalties for federal marijuna trafficking can also be dependent on whether or not it is a first or subsequent offense. 

If you are caught in a second-offense of federally drug trafficking with more than a thousand kilograms of marijuana, you can face 20 to 40 years in prison, and millions in fines. 

The average sentence for people convicted of federal marijuana trafficking was about 26 months or 2 years in prison (according to the United States Sentencing Commission). This allows defendants to have more time to rehabilitate themselves, find a job sooner or continue working, and see their loved ones and family for emotional support.

Federal Heroin Trafficking Penalties

heroin and other illegal drugs are pictured with cash to represent federal heroin trafficking crimesHeroin is an opioid drug used for pain relief, but it is typically mixed with other illegal substances, and it can have negative short-term and long-term effects. Federal Heroin trafficking crimes include selling, transporting or illegally importing heroin across state lines or internationally.

Heroin is made from morphine (according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021).

For trafficking 100 grams of heroin, the lower end consequences include 5 to 40 years in federal prison. For the higher end consequences of federal heroin trafficking, an individual can be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison for 1 kilogram of heroin. 

On a state level: If there are small amounts of heroin, certain states will not prosecute. In Florida, a minimum mandatory sentence of 3 years in prison can be issued for 4 to 14 grams. Also, there is a minimum of $50,000 in fines. This only applies if heroin was only transported solely within the state of Florida. If heroin was trafficked INTO or OUT of Florida, then it is a federal crime. 


Federal Oxycodone Trafficking Penalties

an infogrpahic shows how long oxycodone stays in your body and in your system, whether it is in your blood, hair, urine or salivaOxycodone is a narcotic drug used to relieve pain. It is released at once in the system, however, which can negatively affect the body compared to oxycontin which is broken down throughout the day. 

This drug can only be prescribed by a doctor for medical reasons, which makes it illegal for someone to possess oxycodone if it was not prescribed by a medical professional.

If an individual possesses a large amount of the drug, they can be charged with oxycodone trafficking. Federal oxycodone trafficking includes when the drug is transported across state or international lines. 

The penalties include an incarceration period of about 3 to 25 years in prison, and fines of about $50,000 ti $75,000.

It’s the quantity of oxycodone that will determine if the person found with the drug will be charged with possession or trafficking. If an individual is found with less than 6.5 grams, they will be charged with oxycodone possession instead of oxycodone trafficking which will have less harsh consequences.

Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking Penalties

An infographic from VeryWell shows common methods of methamphetamine and the risks of illegally using methMethamphetamine is a stimulant that speeds up the central nervous system. 

It is an illegal drug due to its negative reactions of paranoia, confusion, convulsions, liver damage, intense scratching, thinning of the body, and death (Drillinger, 2021). 

Federal Methamphetamine Trafficking charges include possessing a large amount of the drug, and transporting it over state or international lines.  For each punishment of methamphetamine drug trafficking, there are several factors that can influence the sentencing period.

If it is a first offense of federal meth trafficking, the minimum is 10 years in prison, and the individual could possibly face life in federal prison  depending on the amount of methamphetamine. If the defendant has a prior conviction, he or she can face a minimum of 15 years in prison. 

Fines include $20,000 all the way up to $75,000 dollars if more than one person was involved in the crime. With two or more prior convictions, the defendant can possibly face more than 25 years in federal prison. Also, with prior convictions, the defendant will not be eligible for parole. They must serve out their sentences.


Federal Cocaine Trafficking Penalties

cocaine is in a small plastic baggy on an orange-yellow backgroundCocaine is a stimulant drug which can be made from baking soda and water. The slang term “crack” was derived from “the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). 

The penalties that can arise from federal cocaine trafficking include a 10 year prison sentence and a $10 million fine for controlled substances.

For counterfeit substances, there is a minimum of 5 years and a $5 million fine. If more than one individual was involved in the crime, the fine can be enhanced to $25 million or $50 million.

Conclusion: Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties Are Steep 

As you now know, federal drug trafficking charges are serious. If you’ve been charged with any type of federal drug trafficking charge, you need to know these allegations are serious.

You could be looking at potentially life in prison, or millions of dollars in fines depending on the drug you were trafficking and the circumstances of your arrest and the federal investigation of which you’re a target

If you’re facing a federal drug trafficking charge, or have found out you’re being investigated for a federal drug crime, call Rossen Law Firm to schedule an appointment for a  FREE consultation


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