Drug Trafficking & Distribution + Laws, Charges & Statute of Limitations

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Federal drug trafficking/distribution laws provide stiff penalties for the selling, transportation and illegal importation of illegal drugs,such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.

Drug trafficking and distribution is a felony, and is much more serious than simple drug possession. If you are found possessing drugs, you can be charged with trafficking if law enforcement thinks that you intended to sell them. If you are found with a high quantity of drugs or cash when you are arrested, you may face drug distribution charges.

Drug distribution and trafficking also applies to illegally distributing prescription drugs, such as sleeping pills and painkillers. This type of illegal distribution often involves various types of hydrocodone drugs and opiates.

Illegal Drugs Versus Legal Drugs

Whether a drug is legal or not depends on how you use it and what it is being used for. For instance, amphetamines are used to treat ADD, and barbiturates are often used to treat anxiety. But if these drugs are used in an unprescribed and unsupervised manner, there can be a danger to people and to society in general. That is why local, state and federal authorities regulate these drugs, and punish people who engage in trafficking and distribution of various illegal drugs.

Drug Trafficking and Controlled Substances

States and the federal government often define certain drugs as controlled. This means that the use and distribution of them is governed by state and federal law. Controlled substances are classified under various levels or schedules according to state and federal statutes. For example, marijuana is defined as a Schedule I controlled substance, cocaine is under Schedule II, and anabolic steroids are under Schedule III, as defined in the Controlled Substances Act.

By far, the most frequent illegal drug seized today is methamphetamine:


Federal Laws for Distribution and Trafficking

There has long been a federal strategy to fight the abuse and distribution of many controlled substances. Each state of course also has its own laws. One of the major differences between state and federal laws on drug convictions is that most federal charges are for trafficking and distribution, while most state arrests are for possession.

Federal charges tend to have more severe punishments than state charges as well. Most of the prison sentences and fines are stiffer.

The exact consequences for being convicted for distribution and trafficking depends upon several factors:

  • Type and amount of the controlled substances in the case
  • Where you were arrested – if you were bringing drugs into the US or distributing them near a school, penalties are harsher
  • Your criminal history

Drug Trafficking and Distribution Penalties

Drug trafficking and distribution charges at the federal level are serious crimes. Possible penalties at the federal level include:

  • Prison: Drug trafficking convictions for even first time offenders will get a prison sentence of over a year. Some convictions for trafficking can get a sentence of over ten years. Life sentences are possible for repeat offenders caught with large amounts of illegal drugs.
  • Fines: Some federal drug trafficking convictions can carry fines as high as $10 million
  • Probation: Probation is possible in some trafficking and distribution cases, but usually only in a plea bargain where you agree to plead guilty on a lesser crime. Probation can last from 12-36 months on both the state and federal levels.
  • Mandatory minimum sentences: Drug trafficking convictions often carry tough minimum sentences. This means that the judge does not have discretion on the sentence, and you must serve a certain period of time. If you are sentenced by the feds to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking and there is a three year mandatory minimum, you must serve at least three years – no exceptions.

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Drug Trafficking Laws by State

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

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