Drug trafficking is a serious crime that can carry severe penalties. Most people know this, even
if they don’t necessarily understand the specifics of drug trafficking charges and penalties. It is
not surprising that someone convicted of drug trafficking receive a stiff prison sentence and a
That being said, not as many people realize that there is a significant difference between being
tried at the state level versus being hit with federal charges – or that drug trafficking is one of
those criminal acts that is commonly prosecuted at the federal level.
If you find yourself suddenly dealing with federal drug trafficking charges, watch out. These
types of offenses can result in significant prison time in a federal prison due to mandatory
minimums, hefty fines, and other legal consequences.
A recent case in the Eastern District of Texas highlights the seriousness of these charges and
the potential penalties that individuals face if they are convicted.
Dallas Man Convicted in a Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
What happened in this case?
A Dallas man was charged with multiple offenses, including conspiracy to possess with the
intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin, as well as possession with the intent
to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. He was also charged with using a firearm in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), two organizations commonly associated
with these types of cases. A federal jury convicted the man of multiple drug trafficking violations.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, after his conviction the man faced a maximum sentence
of life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, and forfeiture of any property or assets that were
connected to his drug trafficking activities.
Those are absolutely devastating, life-changing penalties.
Are all federal trafficking penalties like this? How did he find himself up against these kinds of
How Penalties for Federal Drug Trafficking Charges Work
The penalties for federal drug trafficking charges can vary depending on the specific offense in question and the quantity of drugs that were involved.
Thankfully, the DEA has provided a detailed guide to trafficking penalties. This guide outlines
the potential consequences for individuals who are convicted of drug trafficking offenses based
on the factors mentioned above.
For example, the DEA guide notes that individuals convicted of trafficking more than 500 grams
of methamphetamine can face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with a
maximum sentence of life in prison.
Similarly, individuals convicted of trafficking more than 280 grams of cocaine or more than 100
grams of heroin can also face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in prison.
The penalties for drug trafficking offenses can also include fines. The DEA guide notes that
individuals convicted of trafficking drugs can face fines of up to $10 million or more, depending
on the specific offense and the quantity of drugs involved.
Besides fines, individuals can also be required to forfeit any property or assets that are
connected to their drug trafficking activities.
Additional penalties can also be doled out if firearms are used in drug trafficking offenses. In the
case of the Dallas man mentioned above, he was not only charged with drug trafficking
offenses, but also with using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
This offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. Worse, it is a
sentence that must be served consecutively to any other sentence that is imposed for the
underlying drug trafficking offense, rather than concurrently. In other words, once he has
completed the sentence for trafficking, the man will then begin serving his time for using a
firearm in the commission of the crime.
What You Can Do to Fight Back If You Are Charged with Federal Drug Trafficking Charges
As you can see, drug trafficking is a serious offense that can have significant legal
Individuals who are facing federal drug trafficking charges should work with an experienced
criminal defense attorney who can help them understand their rights and options. A
knowledgeable lawyer can also help you negotiate plea deals or represent you in court if your
case goes to trial.
Be careful who you choose, though. Federal criminal cases work differently than those at the state level. You want to make sure you work with someone who has demonstrated a track record of success taking on cases at the federal level. Their knowledge and experience give you the best chance at obtaining the most positive outcome in your case.