When people think of trafficking drugs, the first thing that often comes to mind are scenes from movies involving large quantities of drugs and cash being moved through complex criminal organizations. A real-life example of this that was recently in the news was a federal case where several arrests were made from an international drug ring moving cocaine from South America through Mexico and into Los Angeles. Federal agents seized over 7,700 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $500 million from this drug ring over a three-year period. Seven individuals were indicted on federal charges and one higher-ranking member has been extradited to the United States to face charges. The criminal organization was also linked to two murders, including a video recording of a murder involving torture and dismemberment.
While many people associate this type of criminal organization with drug trafficking, most people fail to realize the majority of drug trafficking cases do not involve millions of dollars’ worth of drugs and complex criminal networks. For most substances, the threshold amount needed to be charged with trafficking is low, and even an individual in possession of such an amount for personal use can be charged with trafficking. For example, under Florida law, a mere 28 grams of cocaine is enough to be charged with trafficking it, which is a first-degree felony with a minimum mandatory sentence of three years and a $50,000.00 fine. For oxycodone, possession of 7 grams or more of oxycodone, or any mixture containing oxycodone, is a first-degree felony of trafficking in oxycodone. Consequences for trafficking oxycodone can also be severe. Trafficking 7 grams or more, but less than 14 grams, has a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years and a fine of $50,000. 14 grams or more, but less than 25 grams, has a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years and a fine of $100,000. 25 grams or more, but less than 100 grams, has a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a fine of $500,000.
Methamphetamine and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) are other examples of illegal substances that can be easier to get a trafficking charge than most think. For methamphetamine someone can be charged with trafficking with only 14 grams of methamphetamine or any mixture containing it. With MDMA trafficking charges begin at 10 grams of any substance containing methylenedioxymethamphetamine.
Given the severity of drug trafficking charges, anyone charged with this offense should consult with an attorney experienced in handling drug crime cases.