Drug trafficking charges are frequently the result of racial profiling. This is especially so in the state of Texas and Harris County in particular.
Data backs up the charge that people of color are targeted by the police in Harris County for drug crimes, many of which lead to very serious charges like trafficking.
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition analyzed criminal cases over a two-year period from 2019 to 2021. They found that, of the 270 people charged with the manufacture or delivery of a penalty group 1 drug, over 80 percent were black. That is a startling fact when you consider that only about 20 percent of the population in the county black.
The crackdown on drug trafficking comes as a byproduct of the decades-long “war on drugs”, a war many cite as overwhelmingly prosecuting people of color.
In Texas, drug trafficking is a serious offense that can result in a severe prison sentence.
Here’s what you need to know about drug trafficking charges in Texas.
What Is Drug Trafficking in Texas?
Drug trafficking is basically the delivery or distribution of illegal drugs. It violates the Texas Controlled Substances Act. These laws were created to fight those who deal and make illegal drugs in the state.
Some people caught in possession of illegal drugs may not be manufacturing or dealing them, but they may still get caught in drug trafficking charges if they possess a certain amount.
Groups of Drugs
Under the Texas Controlled Substances Act, four groups of drugs determine the penalty you may face if charged with drug trafficking. These groups are:
- Group 1: Methamphetamines, cocaine, and opiates
- Group 1A: LSD
- Group 2: Hallucinogens that are not LSD
- Group 3: Barbituric acid and pentobarbital
- Group 4: Narcotics
Notice that marijuana’s absence from these groups. That’s because marijuana has its own penalty group.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Trafficking?
The penalties for drug trafficking in Texas depend on the type of drug and drug penalty group. The amount in your possession on arrest also plays a role in the final charges and penalties.
An array of penalties can be applied when a person is found guilty of drug trafficking, ranging from state jail felonies to first-degree felonies.
For example, possession of over 400 grams of a substance included in Penalty Group 1 can result in as many as 99 years in prison and fines of as much as $250,000. But possession of one gram or less of a Penalty Group 1 drug will result in only two years behind bars and up to $10,000 in fines.
Charges for possessing between 200 and 400 grams of a substance from Penalty Group 3 or 4 can land you 99 years in prison and maximum fines of $10,000.
In a guilty verdict for drug trafficking, the judge will look at the facts of the case and the drug’s corresponding Penalty Group when deciding the sentence.
What About Federal Crimes?
It is important to note that, if you are found guilty of drug trafficking and distributing drugs across state lines, you may be charged with a violation of federal drug laws. These can be prosecuted concurrently with charges in Texas.
It is not considered double jeopardy to be charged for the same crime in both state and federal courts. This is even more reason to make sure an experienced attorney defends you against drug trafficking charges.
As you can see, drug trafficking is a serious crime. But remember: you are innocent until proven guilty. It is the state’s responsibility to prove their charges against you in court.
You have the ability to fight against charges with a proper defense, especially if you believe your rights were violated during the investigation or trial.
For instance, the police may have lacked the right to search you in the first place. It can be difficult to navigate the circumstances on your own, so it’s crucial to seek counsel, understand the charges against you, and create the best defense possible.