Federal Drug Trafficking

While a person can face federal criminal charges for minor drug crimes such as simple possession if the violation occurs on federal property or the alleged offender attempts to sell a controlled substance to a federal agent, a majority of federal drug cases involve drug trafficking. Contrary to common belief, drug trafficking crimes do not require alleged offenders to be caught while transporting a controlled substance.

Trafficking is defined as knowingly dispensing, distributing, manufacturing, or possessing with intent to dispense, distribute, or manufacture controlled substances. In many cases, mere possession of larger amounts of certain types of drugs can lead to trafficking charges.

Lawyer for Federal Drug Trafficking Arrests in Raleigh, NC

Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for a federal drug trafficking offense in North Carolina? Do not say anything to authorities until you can first contact Coolidge Law Firm.

Raleigh criminal defense attorney David Coolidge aggressively defends clients fecing federal drug trafficking charges throughout North Carolina. You can have our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free initial consultation.


Federal Drug Trafficking Crimes Information Center


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Federal Drug Schedules

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classifies drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to make drugs into five categories referred to as schedules. Classifications are determined by a drug’s acceptable medical use and abuse rate or dependency potential.

A controlled substance does not need be listed in order to be treated as a Schedule I substance for criminal prosecution. Under the Federal Analogue Act (21 U.S.C. § 813) in the CSA, any chemical intended for human consumption that is substantially similar to a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II can be treated as if it were also listed in those schedules.

The five drug schedules are as follows: 

  • Schedule I — Drugs, substances, or chemicals with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. These are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Examples include gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (marihuana, cannabis, weed, or pot), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote. 
  • Schedule II — Drugs, substances, or chemicals with a high potential for abuse, but less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs. Use of these drugs can potentially lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Examples include combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin. 
  • Schedule III — Drugs, substances, or chemicals with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Examples include products containing 90 milligrams or less of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone. 
  • Schedule IV — Drugs, substances, or chemicals with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Examples include Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, and Tramadol. 
  • Schedule V — Drugs, substances, or chemicals with a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs and consisting of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Examples include cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin.

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Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties in North Carolina

Federal cases of drug trafficking carry much stiffer penalties than state charges. Many sentences can involve harsh mandatory minimum sentences.

Criminal charges in federal cases may be influenced by a variety of circumstances and aggravating factors, including the type of drugs allegedly involved, the amount of drugs involved, an offender’s previous drug convictions, whether another person was injured or killed, the involvement of any minors in the alleged offense, whether drugs were distributed to minors or near a drug-free zones, or the crossing of state and/or international borders.

The current possible penalties for federal drug trafficking crimes are as follows:

Controlled Substance

Amount

Fine

Prison Sentence

Cocaine

500-4,999 grams

First Offense: Mandatory minimum five year sentence up to 40 years in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20 year sentence up to life in prison.

 

Second Offense: Mandatory minimum 10 year sentence up to life in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, life sentence.

First Offense: Up to $5 million for individuals, $25 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $8 million for individuals, $50 million for non-individuals.

Cocaine base

28-279 grams

Fentanyl

40-399 grams

Fentanyl analogue

10-99 grams

Heroin

100-999 grams

LSD

1-9 grams

Pure methamphetamine

5-49 grams

Methamphetamine mixture

50-499 grams

Pure PCP

10-99 grams

PCP mixture

100-999 grams

Cocaine

5 kilograms or more

First Offense: Mandatory minimum 10 year sentence up to life in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20 year sentence up to life in prison.

 

Second Offense: Mandatory minimum 20 year sentence up to life in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, life sentence.

 

Third or Subsequent Offense: Life in prison.

First Offense: Up to $10 million for individuals, $50 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $20 million for individuals, $75 million for non-individuals.

 

Third or Subsequent Offense: Up to $20 million for individuals, $75 million for non-individuals.

Cocaine base

280 grams or more

Fentanyl

400 grams or more

Fentanyl analogue

100 grams or more

Heroin

1 kilogram or more

LSD

10 grams or more

Pure methamphetamine

50 grams or more

Methamphetamine mixture

500 grams or more

Pure PCP

100 grams or more

PCP mixture

1 kilogram or more

Other Schedule I and Schedule II Substances

Any amount

First Offense: Up to 20 years in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20 year sentence up to life in prison.

 

Second Offense: Up to 30 years in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, life imprisonment.

First Offense: Up to $1 million for individuals, $5 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $2 million for individuals, $10 million for non-individuals.

Any drug product containing gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)

Any amount

Flunitrazepam

1 gram or more

Other Schedule III Drugs

Any amount

First Offense: Up to 10 years in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, up to 15 years in prison.

 

Second Offense: Up to 20 years in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, up to 30 years in prison.

First Offense: Up to $500,000 for individuals, $2.5 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $1 million for individuals, $5 million for non-individuals.

All other Schedule IV Drugs (other than one gram or more of Flunitrazepam)

Any amount

First Offense: Up to five years in prison.

 

Second Offense: Up to 10 years in prison.

First Offense: Up to $250,000 for individuals, $1 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $500,000 for individuals, $2 million for non-individuals.

All Schedule V Drugs

Any amount

First Offense: Up to one year in prison.

 

Second Offense: Up to four years in prison.

First Offense: Up to $100,000 for individuals, $250,000 for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $200,000 for individuals, $500,000 for non-individuals.

Marijuana

1,000 kilograms or more marijuana mixture, or 1,000 or more marijuana plants

First Offense: Mandatory minimum 10 year sentence up to life in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20 year sentence up to life in prison.

 

Second Offense: Mandatory minimum 20 year sentence up to life in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, life sentence.

First Offense: Up to $10 million for individuals, $50 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $20 million for individuals, $75 million for non-individuals.

Marijuana

100 to 999 kilograms marijuana mixture, or 100 to 999 marijuana plants

First Offense: Mandatory minimum five year sentence up to 40 years in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20 year sentence up to life in prison.

 

Second Offense: Mandatory minimum 10 year sentence up to life in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, life sentence.

First Offense: Up to $5 million for individuals, $25 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $8 million for individuals, $50 million for non-individuals.

Marijuana

50 to 99 kilograms marijuana mixture, or 50 to 99 marijuana plants

First Offense: Up to 20 years in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20 year sentence up to life in prison.

 

Second Offense: Up to 30 years in prison. If case involves death or serious bodily injury, life imprisonment.

First Offense: Up to $1 million for individuals, $5 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $2 million for individuals, $10 million for non-individuals.

Hashish

More than 10 kilograms

Hashish Oil

More than 1 kilogram

Marijuana

Less than 50 kilograms marijuana (Not including 50 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight), or 1 to 49 marijuana plants

First Offense: Up to five years in prison.

 

Second Offense: Up to 10 years in prison.

First Offense: Up to $250,000 for individuals, $1 million for non-individuals.

 

Second Offense: Up to $500,000 for individuals, $2 million for non-individuals.

Hashish

10 kilograms or less

Hashish Oil

1 kilogram or less


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North Carolina Federal Drug Trafficking Resources

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) | High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) — The HIDTA program provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. On this website, you can view a map of counties in the United States partipcating in the HIDTA program. You cna find additional information about the program on this website. 

Drug Trafficking | United States Sentencing Commission — The U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) is an independent agency in the judicial branch of federal government enacted in response to widespread disparity in federal sentencing. 
The Sentencing Reform Act ushered in a new era of federal sentencing through the creation of the USSC and the promulgation of federal sentencing guidelines. On this section of the USSC website, you can learn more about drug trafficking sentencing.


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Find a Federal Drug Trafficking Defense Attorney in Raleigh, NC

If you were arrested or think that you could be under investigation for drug trafficking in the Research Triangle, Raleigh, Wake County, or anywhere in North Carolina, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Coolidge Law Firm represents individuals in communities throughout North Carolina..

David Coolidge is an experienced criminal defense lawyer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. With over a decade of experience defending clients in State and Federal Court, Attorney Coolidge has the knowledge and expertise to get the best possible result for his clients. Call (919) 239-8448 or submit an online contact form to have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.


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