Federal Drug Trafficking 101

In Drug Traffickingby johncannon

What does Drug Trafficking Mean?

Many people assume that federal drug trafficking is limited to scenes from movies or tv shows about the cartel or other drug enterprises; however, it is not that simple. In reality federal drug trafficking charges encompasses a much larger group of people charged with drug offenses. Both federal drug trafficking charges and Oklahoma drug trafficking charges carry substantial penalties; however, they are both based on possession of a specific amount of a controlled dangerous substance.

Federal drug trafficking charges are generally based on a federal issue, i.e. drug trafficking or moving drugs across state or international lines. The FBI, DEA, and other federal law enforcement agencies do not handle strictly local or in state drug trafficking offenses. Drug trafficking that is limited to the state of Oklahoma is reserved for local and state law enforcement, such as OSBI and police departments.

Federal drug laws and as a result federal law enforcement focuses on investigating drug trafficking that is international or across state lines, i.e. drug trafficking from Mexico through Texas and Oklahoma and onto the east coast. Drug trafficking that occurs across state lines is impossible for local or state law enforcement to make an impact, that is where federal drug trafficking investigations and prosecution come into play.

It is important to hire an experienced federal drug trafficking attorney to help you or your family be prepared to face the government in federal drug trafficking cases. Contact Cannon & Associates to protect your rights and fight for you in your federal drug trafficking defense in Oklahoma. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.In the meantime, the following are some of the common defenses we have raised successfully for clients facing drug trafficking charges.

Federal Drug Trafficking Laws

The federal sentencing guidelines on federal drug trafficking were enacted in the 1980s. Federal sentencing guidelines impose substantial penalties for federal drug trafficking offenses. As stated above, it is sufficient to possess a pre-determined amount of a specific drug to be convicted of federal drug trafficking, no intent to distribute or traffic drugs is necessary.

Federal Drug Trafficking vs. Federal Drug Possession

United States Code Title 21 Section 841 dictates that federal drug trafficking can apply to mere possession of drugs. Under federal sentencing guidelines, drug trafficking is triggered when a specific amount of a controlled dangerous substance is found. The volume or weight required to make federal drug possession a federal drug trafficking offense varies by substance. If you are alleged to have possession one gram less than the amount for federal drug trafficking, you will likely face federal drug possession charges that carry a much lighter sentence.

Mandatory Minimums in Federal Drug Trafficking

Originally the federal sentencing guidelines dictated mandatory minimum sentences for anyone convicted of federal drug trafficking. Meaning, a federal judge considering a particular federal criminal defendant and their circumstances was prohibited from granting a lighter sentence than the mandatory minimum in any federal drug trafficking case. For example, a federal criminal defendant in possession of 100 grams of methamphetamine or 50 grams of crack cocaine faced a mandatory minimum of ten (10) years in federal prison without the possibility of early parole. Fortunately, in 2005 the United States Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Booker that the sentencing guidelines are advisory and the court could deviate from the mandatory minimums.

Federal Drug Trafficking: Ranges and Sentencing Factors

The federal sentencing guidelines still impose minimum and maximum sentences for federal drug trafficking offenses; however, the court takes sentencing factors into consideration prior to reaching a sentence. The federal sentencing factors consider both aggravators in a sentence and mitigation or extenuating information, i.e. was someone injured? Does the person have prior convictions? Was a victim substantially negatively impacted by the offense?

Downward Adjustments in Federal Drug Trafficking

Federal sentencing guidelines allow for downward adjustments or lesser penalties when a federal criminal defendant provides “substantial assistance” to law enforcement or federal prosecutors. Substantial assistance includes any information or intelligence about other criminal activity that results in assistance in the investigation or prosecution of other federal crimes. U.S. Attorneys or federal prosecutors hold the cards in determining, if they will ask the court to consider substantial assistance as a downward adjustment for the federal defendant’s assistance or cooperation in an investigation.

Federal Drug Trafficking Defense

Retaining a federal drug defense attorney early on in your case, including during the investigation can greatly assist you in reaching the best outcome possible. Our Fierce Advocates can assist in conducting our own investigation to challenge the evidence collected by federal agents, i.e. wiretaps, witness statements, informants, search warrants, and federal indictments. We can assist you in hold federal investigations to your Constitutional Rights in the following types of cases; with the drug trafficking defenses below and more:

  1. Federal Drug Trafficking
  2. Federal Cocaine Possession
  3. Federal Ecstasy Possession
  4. Federal Heroin Possession
  5. Federal Marijuana Possession
  6. Federal Drug Manufacturing
  7. Federal Drug Distribution
  8. Federal Drug Smuggling
  9. Federal Drug RICO
  10. Other Federal Drug Offenses

Federal Drug Trafficking Defense No. 1

Your Constitutional rights were violated and you were the subject of an illegal search or seizure. Decisional law from appellate courts and the United Supreme Court as well as the Fourth Amendment form the basis for your protection from illegal searches. Any evidence that was retained as a result of an illegal search cannot be used against you in court. Our Fierce Advocates will research the evidence and facts of your case and file the appropriate suppression motion, if you were the victim of an illegal search.

No illegally obtained evidence that the police collected can be used against you in your drug trafficking case. The most common causes of illegal searches and seizures are as follows: illegal traffic stops (traffic stops without probable cause), illegal searches of your person with cause, and searches of vehicles or your home without a warrant. Any time an officer conducts a search or a seizure without probable cause, your rights have been violated and that evidence should be suppressed by the Court. Police often try to use an exigent circumstance to form the basis for an otherwise illegal search; however, our Oklahoma Drug Trafficking defense attorneys are ready to fight for you and suppress illegally obtained evidence.

Federal Drug Trafficking Defense No. 2

Any statements obtained by law enforcement without your being advised of your Miranda Rights are inadmissible. Police must read you or advise you of your rights under Miranda before asking you any potentially incriminating questions, if you are in custody or under arrest. One of the most common battles we fight in suppression and drug trafficking cases is statements elicited by police after a drug trafficking stop and before our client was advised of his or her rights under Miranda.

Your rights under Miranda are as follows: to be free from questioning without an attorney, the right to remain silent, and a reminder that “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” You weren’t read your Miranda Rights. We are Fierce Advocates for our client’s Constitutional Rights and we hold law enforcement to the law in court, if they attempt to admit statements that should be suppressed.

Federal Drug Trafficking Defense No. 3

You did not possess the drugs. Proximity is not proof of guilt in federal trafficking prosecution. In order to be guilty of federal drug trafficking, you must possess the requisite amount of the specific drugs. Federal drug trafficking law allows for actual and constructive possession. Actual possession means you are physical possession of the drugs, which is uncommon in drug trafficking. The other, more common form of possession in drug trafficking, is constructive possession drug trafficking. In constructive possession, you must have the ability and intent to control the disposition of the illegal drugs. This is a serious point of contention and a question we pose to the jury, if necessary.

If the prosecutor in your drug trafficking case cannot prove that you actually or constructively possessed the drugs, they cannot be conceited of drug trafficking.

Federal Drug Trafficking Defense No. 4

Entrapment is a defense to the situation where law enforcement coerces you or sets you up to commit a crime. The basis of the entrapment defense is that you cannot be held criminally liable for a crime that you were forced or coerced into committing. In drug trafficking cases, law enforcement will often engage in sting operations to “set up” a drug transaction that amounts to drug trafficking. Our Fierce Advocates for drug trafficking defendants will fight for you and raise an entrapment defense, if the facts are right in your drug trafficking case.

Contact – Cannon & Associates: Federal Drug Trafficking Defense Attorneys

Experience matters when you or a loved one are facing federal drug trafficking charges in Oklahoma. It is important to know the federal drug trafficking defense lawyer you hire is dedicated to your cause and versed in all aspects of search and seizure laws, suppression of illegally obtained evidence, and federal drug trafficking laws. Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for federal drug trafficking defendants and will fight for you. Contact Cannon & Associates to protect your rights and fight for you in your federal drug trafficking defense in Oklahoma. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.