Drug Trafficking Explained

Drug trafficking is defined as selling, transporting and/or importing illegal drugs. Another name for this crime is drug distribution.

Drug distribution or trafficking laws are determined by federal laws. They penalize the selling, transportation, and illegal import of unlawful controlled substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and other illegal drugs. The punishment for drug trafficking can vary widely depending on several factors including the type and quantity of drugs involved, geographic area of distribution, and whether children were targeted. Sentences for drug distribution and trafficking can generally range from 3-5 years to life in prison but can be substantially higher when larger quantities are involved.

Drug trafficking/distribution is a felony and is a more serious crime than drug possession. If you’re found in possession of drugs, you could be charged with trafficking if police believe you intended to sell them. If you’re found with a large quantity of drugs or cash at the time of your arrest, it is likely you’ll be facing drug distribution charges.

Drug distribution or trafficking also applies to the illegal distribution of prescription drugs, such as pain killers or sleeping pills. The illegal distribution of prescription drugs often involves hydrocodone products and pharmaceutical opiates.

When a state or federal government classifies a substance as “controlled,” it generally means that the use and distribution of the substance is governed by law. Controlled substances are often classified at different levels or “schedules” under federal and state statutes. For instance, marijuana is listed as a “Schedule I controlled substance,” cocaine is listed under Schedule II, anabolic steroids under Schedule III, under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Both federal and state laws come into play on drug trafficking cases. If a person is caught trafficking a controlled substance across state lines, federal law will apply, but if the drug trafficking is entirely within one state, that state’s laws will apply.

There is a multitude of federal drug laws on the books, plus each state also has its own set of drug laws. Many state laws are modeled after the federal laws and provide minimum sentencing standards for offenders. Lawmakers generally pass these laws to deter the major drug cartels, but more often it is the lower level dealers that get prosecuted. Indeed, the controversy around drug trafficking laws is that a petty drug dealer can often face a longer sentence than violent criminals.

The Federal government prohibits any person from manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing controlled substances. A person found in violation is subject to sentencing based on the quantity of the prohibited substance. The details about prison sentences and fines for controlled substances are found in federal statutes.

The prison sentences increase for higher amounts of controlled substances. There are also penalty enhancements if death or serious bodily injury results and for prior convictions. In addition, prison term enhancements can apply to convictions for drug trafficking if the person is considered the leader or if a firearm is involved. Note that the firearm sentences are not concurrent with the sentence for drug trafficking. This means that the convicted person would serve the prison term for the drug offense and then serve the additional term for the firearm afterwards.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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