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Drug Trafficking

Florida law defines drug trafficking as knowingly selling, purchasing, manufacturing, delivering, importing by bringing into Florida, or knowingly being in actual or constructive possession of, certain Schedule I, Schedule II, or Schedule III controlled substances in amounts specified by the statutory scheme.

Florida’s drug trafficking laws only apply certain types of controlled substances that are listed in Section 893.135, F.S. In addition, the controlled substance involved in the trafficking offense must meet a specified weight or quantity threshold.

Under S893.135, F.S., most drug trafficking offenses are classified as first-degree felonies punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison. In addition, for most drug trafficking crimes, Florida law imposes a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment and a mandatory fine, which is determined by the weight or quantity of the substance.

At last count, Florida law provided for fifty-six (56) mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment in s. 893.135, F.S., which range from three years to life imprisonment.

The most serious types of drug trafficking offenses are classified as first degree felonies punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment as specified in Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S.

Drug trafficking crimes also include a mandatory fine, which is determined by the weight or quantity range applicable to the weight or quantity of the substance involved in the trafficking.

Attorney for Drug Trafficking Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you were arrested for drug trafficking or a conspiracy to traffic in illegal drugs in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

You need an experienced attorney to represent you during each stage of the case. The first appearance or advisory court date in a drug trafficking case is particularly important because you will not be released on a bail bond until after your first appearance hearing.

The judge presiding at the first appearance hearing will determine the appropriate amount of bail to be set, if any. Your criminal defense attorney can argue for the lowest possible bond amount and the most favorable provisions for pre-trial release.

Contact us to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss the best ways to aggressively fight the felony drug charges. For drug trafficking charges prosecuted in the Circuit Courts in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, or the surrounding counties in Pinellas County, Pasco County, or Polk County, FL, then contact an experienced attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.


Types of Punishments in Drug Trafficking Cases

Drug trafficking offenses commonly involve the following types of narcotics or controlled substances:

  • Marijuana;
  • Cocaine;
  • Heroin; or
  • Prescription medications such as hydrocodone or oxycontin.

Florida’s statutory scheme provides for different penalties or punishment depending on the type and amount of the substance possessed. Enhanced penalties can exist for armed trafficking of drugs in Florida.

Under Section 893.1351(2), law enforcement officers might bring an additional second-degree felony charge for being in possession of a conveyance used for trafficking a controlled substance. Other aggravating factors can include a prior drug conviction, involvement in a conspiracy to commit a drug crime, or possession of a firearm.


Overview of Drug Trafficking Penalties

· Cocaine Trafficking Penalties
· Cannabis Trafficking Penalties
· Heroin Trafficking Penalties


Cocaine Trafficking Penalties in Florida

Any charge of “Trafficking in Cocaine” is a first-degree felony punishable by up to thirty (30) years in Florida State Prison. Florida law also provides for certain minimum mandatory sentences depending on the amount of cocaine allegedly involved in the trafficking incident:

  • 28 to 200 grams of cocaine carries a three (3) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $50,000.00 fine;
  • 200 to 400 grams of cocaine carries a seven (7) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $100,000.00 fine; or
  • 400 grams to 1.5 kilograms carries a fifteen (15) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $250,000.00 fine.

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Cannabis Trafficking Penalties

Trafficking in Cannabis” penalties depend on the amount of cannabis involved in the trafficking offense, but each trafficking offense is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison.

  • 25 to 2,000 pounds of cannabis or 300 or more cannabis plants carries a three (3) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $25,000.00 fine;
  • 2,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds (or 2000 or more cannabis plants) carries a seven (7) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $50,000.00 fine; or
  • 10,000 pounds or more of cannabis or 10,000 or more cannabis plants carries a fifteen (15) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $250,000 fine.

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Heroin Trafficking Penalties

“Trafficking in Heroin” charges are all first-degree felony offenses punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison. These penalties also apply to Opium, Morphine and prescription pills containing Hydrocodone (Percocet, Percodan, Roxicet, Tylox, and Codeine).

Minimum mandatory provisions depend on the amount of heroin allegedly involved in the heroin trafficking offense:

  • trafficking 4 to 14 grams of heroin carries a three (3) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $50,000 fine.
  • trafficking 14 to 28 grams of heroin carries a fifteen (15) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $100,000 fine.
  • trafficking 28 grams and 30 kilograms carries a twenty-five (25) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $500,000 fine.

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Amphetamine Trafficking Penalties

Amphetamine Trafficking penalties depend on the amount of amphetamine involved in the trafficking offense, but each trafficking offense is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison.

  • 14-28 grams of amphetamine carries a three (3) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $50,000.00 fine;
  • 28-200 grams of amphetamine carries a seven (7) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $100,000.00 fine; or
  • More than 200 grams carries a fifteen (15) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $150,000 fine.

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Florida G.H.B. Trafficking Penalties

G.H.B. trafficking penalties depend on the amount of G.H.B. involved in the trafficking offense, but each trafficking offense is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison. G.H.B. includes gamma-hydroxybutyric acid including GBL or gamma-butyrolactone. One liter of liquid GHB weights about 1 k.g.

  • 1 kilo to 5 kilos of G.H.B. carries a three (3) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $50,000.00 fine;
  • 5 kilo to 10 kilos of G.H.B. carries a seven (7) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $100,000.00 fine; or
  • 10 kilos of G.H.B. carries a fifteen (15) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $250,000 fine.

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1,4 BD (1,4 Butanediol) Trafficking Penalties

1,4 BD is a G.H.B. alternative drug which is also known as GHB-OH. It is metabolized slower than GHB and GBL. 1,4 BD trafficking penalties depend on the amount of 1,4 BD involved in the trafficking offense, but each trafficking offense is afirst-degreee felony, punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison.

Note that one liter of liquid 1,4 BD weights about 1 kg.

  • 1 kilo to 5 kilos of 1,4 BD carries a three (3) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $50,000.00 fine;
  • 5 kilo to 10 kilos of 1,4 BD carries a seven (7) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $100,000.00 fine;
  • 10 kilos of 1,4 BD carries a fifteen (15) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $250,000 fine.

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M.D.M.A. (Ecstasy) Trafficking Penalties

Trafficking in MDMA or Ecstasy penalties depend on the amount of ecstasy or M.D.M.A. involved in the trafficking offense, but each trafficking offense is a first degree felony, punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison.  Note:

  • one (1) tablet weights about .25 grams;
  • forthy (40) tablets weight about 10 grams;
  • eight hundred (800) tablets weight about 200 grams; and
  • one thousand six hundred (1,600) tablets weight about 400 grams.

These penalties also apply to other types of phenethylamines. Minimum mandatory penalties include:

  • If you are accused of trafficking between 10-200 grams MDMA, ecstasy or phenethylamines, then the offense carries a three (3) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $50,000.00 fine;
  • If you are accused of trafficking between 200 – 400 grams of MDMA, ecstasy or phenethylamines, then the offense carries a seven (7) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $100,000.00 fine;
  • If you are accused of trafficking 400 grams to 1.5 kilos of MDMA, ecstasy or phenethylamines, then the offense carries a fifteen (15) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $250,000 fine.

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Forfeiture of Property Related to Drug Trafficking

Many drug trafficking crimes involve seizures for forfeiture of U.S. Currency or other valuable property by local law enforcement officers, task force officers, or federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

When the complaint for forfeiture is filed under federal law, the first cause of action is often listed under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) which relates to forfeiture of property related to drug trafficking.

Under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6), “moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of” 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. are subject to forfeiture.

Under 21 U.S.C. § 841(a), it is “unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally . . . to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance.” An attempt or conspiracy to do the same is also prohibited by 21 U.S.C. § 846.

In federal forfeiture cases involving allegations of drug trafficking, the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) will allege that the Defendant Property is moneys furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance, proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and/or property intended to facilitate such an exchange in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§841(a) and/or 846.

In those cases, the AUSA will allege that the seized property is therefore subject to forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6).

An experienced civil asset forfeiture attorney in Tampa, FL, can help you file a verified claim and answer to any complaint for forfeiture. Immediately after the seizure of U.S. Currency, seek out the services of an experienced attorney for both the criminal charges or any civil asset forfeiture proceeding.


Additional Resources

Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties – Visit the website of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to find a chart showing the penalties for federal trafficking offenses. The chart of drug trafficking penalties is organized by drug/schedule, quantity, and penalties. The penalties for marijuana, hashish, and hashish oil are listed separately for both a first and second offense.

International Drug Trafficking and Interdiction – Drug Policy Alliance Network provides information on interdiction efforts directed at international drug trafficking. The website explains why, despite forty years of US-led international drug control efforts, the overall drug production, trafficking and consumption have remained consistently steady during that time period.

Youth Gang Drug Trafficking – Bulletin from the Department of Justice Office and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention about gang member involvement in drug sales. The bulletin discusses the impact of drug trafficking and the needs of young people who live in the presence of youth gangs.


Lawyers for Drug Trafficking Crimes in Florida

Defenses to drug trafficking, conspiracy to traffic drugs, and trafficking in cocaine can include contesting the legality of the search warrant, arrest warrant, vehicle or home search, or showing an affirmative defense such as entrapment.

Drug trafficking charges are treated very seriously under Florida law. The State of Florida is considered by the United States Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) to be an important area for international money laundering and drug trafficking operations.

Major drug trafficking organizations are active in Florida because of Florida’s 8,000 miles of coastline, proximity to the Bahamas, and ties of Floridians to Central and South America. Trafficking in cocaine is considered the primary threat to Florida.

Our drug crime attorneys represent individuals charged with serious drug trafficking crimes in the Tampa Bay Area including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Pasco County, Manatee County, and Hernando County, FL. Contact an experienced attorney at the Sammis Law Firm for serious drug crimes.

After an arrest for drug trafficking or conspiracy to traffic in Tampa, Bartow, Brooksville, Dade City, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and New Port Richey, Florida, call us to discuss your case.

If your money or other valuable property was seized for forfeiture by state or federal law enforcement officers in a drug trafficking case, then we can help you contest the seizure by filing a verified claim for court action and an answer to the complaint for forfeiture.

Call 813-250-0500.


This article was last updated by on Friday, April 16, 2021.

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