Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is a serious crime under both State and Federal law.  All controlled substances such as heroin, cocaine, Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Bath Salts, Flakka, Gravel), Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstacy, Molly), oxycodone, and cannabis (Marijuana) are subject to Trafficking Laws based on their weight and the substance itself.  Under Florida law, actual or constructive possession of a certain controlled substances can be charged as drug trafficking based on merely the weight of the substance even if there was no intent to sell the substance.

To be convicted under Florida State law, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following: 1.  The defendant knowingly possessed, sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, or brought into Florida a certain controlled substance; 2.  The controlled substance is the drug that it is alleged to be, or a mixture thereof; and 3.  The controlled substance was in excess of the weight deemed under the statute to be trafficking. It is also important to note that Habitual Felon laws apply, as well as Capital Drug Trafficking for certain substances that the defendant knew would result in death.  Capital Drug Trafficking is a capital felony punishable by death, or life imprisonment. § 921.142 Fla.  Stat. (2015). The following is an example of some common substances and weight guidelines for their possession to be considered Trafficking under Florida law which subjects the defendant to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.

Cannabis (Marijuana):

One found to be in possession, or importing into the State of Florida more than 25 pounds, or 300 or more cannabis plants has committed a drug trafficking offense of the first degree.  Conviction for this offense includes imprisonment of no more than 30 years and/or a fine not to exceed $10000.  Mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines would apply.  One found to be in possession, or importing between 25 pounds, but less than 2000 pounds of cannabis is subject to mandatory imprisonment of no less than 3 years and ordered to pay a fine of $25000.  If the quantity involved in 2000 pounds or more, but less than 10000 pounds, one is subject to mandatory imprisonment of no less than 7 years and ordered to pay a fine of $50000.  If the quantity involved is 10000 pounds or more, one is subject to mandatory imprisonment of 15 years and ordered to pay a fine of $200,000.

Cocaine:

One found to be in possession, or importing into the State of Florida more than 28 grams of cocaine, or a mixture thereof, but less than 150 kilograms has committed a drug trafficking offense of the first degree.  Conviction for this offense includes imprisonment of no more than 30 years and/or a fine not to exceed $10000.  Mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines would apply.  One found to be in possession, or importing between 28 grams, but less than 200 grams of cocaine is subject to mandatory imprisonment of no less than 3 years and ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.  If the quantity involved in 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams, one is subject to mandatory imprisonment of no less than 7 years and ordered to pay a fine of $100,000.  If the quantity involved is 400 grams or more, but less than 150 kilograms one is subject to mandatory imprisonment of 15 years and ordered to pay a fine of $250,000.  However, anyone found to be in possession or importing into the State of Florida 150 kilograms or more of cocaine is subject to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole. In addition, cocaine is subject to Capital Drug Trafficking laws.

Heroin:

One found to be in possession, or importing into the State of Florida more than 4 grams of heroin, or a mixture thereof, but less than 30 kilograms has committed a drug trafficking offense of the first degree.  Conviction for this offense includes imprisonment of no more than 30 years and/or a fine not to exceed $10000.  Mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines would apply.  One found to be in possession, or importing more than 4 grams, but less than 14 grams of heroin is subject to mandatory imprisonment of no less than 3 years and ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.  If the quantity involved in 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams, one is subject to mandatory imprisonment of no less than 15 years and ordered to pay a fine of $100,000.  If the quantity involved is 28 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms one is subject to mandatory imprisonment of 25 years and ordered to pay a fine of $500,000.  However, anyone found to be in possession or importing into the State of Florida 30 kilograms or more of heroin is subject to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole.  In addition, heroin is subject to Capital Drug Trafficking laws.

Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Bath Salts, Flakka, Gravel) & Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstacy, Molly):

One found to be in possession, or importing into the State of Florida more than 10 grams of Methylenedioxymethcathinone, or Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or a mixture thereof, has committed a drug trafficking offense of the first degree.  Conviction for this offense includes imprisonment of no more than 30 years and/or a fine not to exceed $10000.  Mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines would apply.  One found to be in possession, or importing more than 10 grams, but less than 20 grams is subject to mandatory imprisonment of no less than 3 years and ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.  If the quantity involved in 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams, one is subject to mandatory imprisonment of no less than 7 years and ordered to pay a fine of $100,000.  If the quantity involved is 400 grams or more, one is subject to mandatory imprisonment of 15 years and ordered to pay a fine of $250,000.  However, anyone found to be in possession or importing into the State of Florida 30 kilograms or more, and knows that such importation would result in death is subject to Capital Drug Trafficking which is a capital felony punishable by death, or life imprisonment.

Under Federal law, drug trafficking is charged as possession with intent to distribute or simple possession and exists when one knowingly or intentionally manufactures, distributes, or dispenses, or possesses with intent to manufacture, distributes, or dispenses, a controlled substance in excess of a certain weight.  Federal law also sets forth mandatory minimum sentences for this offense based on the weight of the controlled substance and the accused’s prior convictions, if any.

To be convicted under Federal law, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following: 1.  That the defendant had knowledge; 2.  Possession; and 3.  Intent to distribute a controlled substance in excess of a certain weight.  For simple possession: 1.  That the defendant had knowing possession, or constructive possession of a controlled substance through ownership, dominion, or control over the contraband itself or the premises on which it was concealed in excess of a certain weight.

Under Federal law, one found to be trafficking any of the aforementioned substances has committed a felony.  Conviction of this offense includes a fine up to, and not to exceed $10,000,000 for an individual and/or a term of imprisonment in a range of no less than 5 years to LIFE depending on the weight, and the controlled substance itself that is being trafficked.

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