The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently released their 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment, and it confirms that the seizure of cocaine is dropping while the seizure of methamphetamine is increasing. Methamphetamine production and smuggling has increased because Mexican drug cartels are able to get around the restrictions that have been placed on the chemicals to make a pure and potent product.
Traditionally meth was supplied in the U.S. by outlaw motorcycle gangs, and a litany of smaller independent trafficking groups. While the bikers still maintain a large share of the meth market, the DEA reports that the supplying and distribution of the drug in this country has been assumed by four major drug cartels in Mexico (the Arrellano-Felix cartel, the Amado Carrillo-Fuentes cartel, the Amezua-Contresas cartel, and the Caro-Quintero cartel).
Classified as Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCOs), these cartels are composed of both Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans living in the United States. They have formed working relationships with some outlaw biker groups and inner-city gangs to distribute the meth they produce and supply from Mexico—most of which is smuggled into the U.S. in personal vehicles and trucks, and some four-wheel drive vehicles. Their major networks now exist in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Houston; and to a lesser extent, Denver, Phoenix, and Seattle.
Major Methamphetamine Traffic
The United States has the largest illegal drug market in the world. So meth sales in the United States mean big bucks to Mexican cartels. How big? A cartel might spend $65 to make a kilogram of meth. But that kilogram can then be sold in the United States for $18,000 – or more.
The Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area believes that the increase in meth use correlates to an increase in violent crimes like home invasion and aggravated robberies. Because of this, Houston law enforcement officers consider meth to be one of the greatest threats to the region. And in order to curb the use and sale of meth, law enforcement is cracking down on drug trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border.
If you have been arrested or charged with drug trafficking, it’s important to understand the laws and penalties associated with the charges you are up against. It’s also important to contact an skilled, experienced defense attorney. He or she will not only be able to help you understand your rights, but craft the best possible defense.
What You Need to Understand about Drug Trafficking Laws
Methamphetamine, or more commonly called “Crystal Meth,” is also known by street names such as “ice,” “crank,” “speed,” or “glass.”
Penalties for the possession, sale, or manufacture of meth varies at both the federal and state level. A meth conviction can result in a punishment ranging from a fine, to a misdemeanor jail term, or a serious prison term for a felony conviction.
For example, at the federal level a first conviction for possession of meth can result in a “term of imprisonment of not more than one year” under 18 U.S.C. § 844(a) while a first conviction for possession of 5 grams of meth requires the imposition of a mandatory 5-year minimum and a 10-year minimum for possession of 50 grams or more with intent to distribute under 18 U.S.C. § 841(a), (b)(1)(B)(viii).
The Texas Controlled Substances Act has four penalty groups, of which meth is assigned to penalty group I. Possession of any controlled substance under this group is a serious offense. Punishment for the mere possession of meth varies, depending upon the aggregate weight of the drug:
- Possession of less than 1 gram of meth is a state jail felony punishable with a sentence between 180 days to two years imprisonment;
- Possession of between 1 and four grams of meth is a third degree felony punishable with a sentence between two and 10 years;
- Possession of between four and 200 grams of meth is a second degree felony punishable with a sentence of two to 20 years;
- Possession of between 200 and 400 grams of meth is a first degree felony punishable with a sentence of 5 to 99 years; and the possession of more than 400 grams is punishable with a sentence of 10 to 99 years.
In addition to the jail and prison terms, meth convictions can also result in serious fines and civil forfeitures.
If You Are Arrested for a Meth Offense
If you are arrested in Texas for meth trafficking, you could face both state and federal charges.
As pointed out above, the penalties for these offenses are especially harsh.
If you’ve been arrested or charged with the possession or possession with intent to distribute meth, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You will need a lawyer who has experience representing drug defendants, especially at the federal level where the prosecutions can be more intense and severe. It may save you from some very serious personal and financial consequences.