Trafficking in Fentanyl

According to the 2020 Medical Examiners Commission Interim Drug Report, the term “fentanyl” was defined as:

“…synthetic opioid analgesic supplied in transdermal patches and also available for oral, nasal, intravenous and spinal administration. Fentanyl is also produced illicitly and currently most fentanyl occurrences represent the ingestion of illicit fentanyl rather than pharmaceutically manufactured fentanyl.”

Florida Statute 893.135(1)(c)(1) prohibits knowingly possessing, selling, purchasing, manufacturing, delivering, or transporting 4 grams or more of fentanyl or any derivative compound (“Trafficking in Fentanyl”).

After an arrest in Hillsborough County, the inmate arrest inquiry page might list the offense as TRAFFICKING IN FENTANYL (4 TO 14 GRAMS) (DRUG3890). Simply possessing less than 4 grams of fentanyl is typically charged as a third degree felony.

The minimum mandatory penalties for fentanyl trafficking depend on the weight of the fentanyl, including:

  • for 4 grams or more, but less than 14 grams of fentanyl – up to 30 years in prison with a 3-year min/man and a $50,000 fine;
  • for 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams of fentanyl – up to 30 years in prison with a 15-year min/man and a $100,000 fine;
  • for 28 grams or more of fentanyl – up to 30 years in prison with a 25-year min/man and a $500,000 fine.

Trafficking in Fentanyl is charged as a first-degree felony. Depending on the amount of fentanyl, the charge might be classified with a Level 8 or a Level 9 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.

Effective October 1, 2023, CS/CS/HB 1359, amended Section 893.135, F.S., to require a mandatory minimum term of not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine if a person 18 years of age or older is convicted of trafficking in dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl analogs by knowingly selling or delivering to a minor at least four grams of fentanyl or a fentanyl analog if such substance or a mixture containing such a substance has at least one of the following attributes:

  • contains a cartoon character imprint;
  • resembles candy, cereal, a gummy, a vitamin, or a chewable product, such as a gum or gelatin-based product;
  • incorporates an actual or fake registered copyright, service mark, or trademark; or
  • resembles the trade dress of a branded food product, consumer food product, or logo food product.

Attorney for Fentanyl Trafficking Crimes in Florida

If you were arrested for trafficking in fentanyl or another controlled substance, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.  We can help you raise defenses for insufficient evidence, an illegal search or seizure, entrapment, or substantial assistance.

Our five attorneys fight serious drug trafficking cases throughout the greater Tampa Bay area, including Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, Hillsborough County, and Polk County, FL.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa. We have a second office in New Port Richey in Pasco County.

We provide a free consultation to discuss the case.

Call 813-250-0500.

What is Fentanyl?

Under Florida law, fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Fentanyl DrugFacts, “Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is also used and made illegally.”

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States.

According to Florida’s Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council’s 2022 Annual Report, the majority of overdose death in Florida in 2021 were related to opioids, and “[t]he most significant increases [in overdose deaths relative to the previous year] were deaths involving fentanyl which increased by 11 percent, and deaths caused by fentanyl increased by 9 percent.”

Report on Deaths Caused by Fentanyl

Law enforcement officers and prosecutors are focused on fentanyl traffic crimes because of the number of deaths being caused by the drug.

According to the 2020 Medical Examiners Commission Interim Drug Report, entitled “Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons by Florida Medical Examiners, for the first time since 2013, ethanol was not the most prevalent drug reported. Instead, the most frequently occurring drugs found in decedents were:

  • fentanyl (2,838);
  • ethyl alcohol (2,814);
  • benzodiazepines (2,182);
  • cocaine (1,851);
  • cannabinoids (1,647);
  • methamphetamine (962);
  • amphetamine (942);
  • fentanyl analogs (905); and
  • morphine (870).

The report also concluded that the drugs that caused the most deaths were:

  • fentanyl (2,622);
  • cocaine (1,229);
  • ethyl alcohol (673);
  • methamphetamine (659);
  • benzodiazepines (595);
  • morphine (518);
  • fentanyl analogs (426); and
  • heroin (403).

The report also found that Fentanyl was listed as causing death in 92 percent of the deaths in which these drugs were found.

Additional Resources

Prosecution of Fentanyl Trafficking Organization – Visit the website of Florida’s Attorney General to find a press release explaining why the head of a fentanyl trafficking organization was sentenced to 50 years in Florida State Prison after a prosecution by the Office of Statewide Prosecution. The charges included trafficking heroin, trafficking fentanyl, conspiracy to traffic heroin, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and the unlawful use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a felony.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, July 5, 2023.