Drug trafficking is synonymous with the business of a drug distribution. It connotes an organized and possibly profitable drug distribution network. It is more than the street sales or supplying recreational users. Trafficking is usually at the wholesale level providing a larger quantity that is more than the average user.
A trafficker may be connected to an organization that has one or more sources of drugs. The organization could have ties to a source could be outside the country, but not necessarily as long as someone has the ties to the source of drugs. A drug trafficking network usually has ties to multiple distribution networks that can distribute narcotics quickly, without detection, and return a profit for the investment. A drug trafficking offense can also be charged as a drug conspiracy.
Trafficking is a legal term recognized in federal and state criminal drug statutes. Because the statute prohibiting drug distribution is the same for trafficking, the penalties are the same. The penalties for a drug trafficking violation will be driven primarily by the amount of drugs that a person is responsible for distributing.
Drug trafficking can involve any controlled substance. Commonly associated with cocaine, trafficking can include marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, ecstacy, methamphetamine, and hashish to name a few.
A drug trafficking conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knowingly possessed the illegal drug and that he did so with the intent to distribute it.
A drug trafficking prosecution may include many tools used by law enforcement. Wiretap evidence is one type of tool. This electronic eavesdropping allows the investigating agents to listen in on phone calls for information and collect evidence of drug activity. It also works to provide intelligence of an impending transaction and law enforcement may use that information to make seizures. A legal wiretap requires a court issued warrant. Federal law requires the law enforcement to take certain steps before a court will issue a wiretap warrant. Wiretap warrants may be challenged in federal court as a motion to suppress the wiretap in violation of the Fourth Amendment. If the motion is granted, the court will suppress the evidence obtained by the warrant. Any person who is charged and whose conversation is used against them can file a motion to suppress.
Another tool may be visual or recorded surveillance of a suspect or the suspect’s house and car. This kind of electronic surveillance does not require court issued warrant. If an undercover informant is involved in the investigation, there will likely be audio tape recordings. Undercover informants working for the law enforcement can often be used to infiltrate a drug trafficking organization and gather evidence for use in court.
Drug trafficking offenses are serious charges that require the highest quality legal representation. Ken Swartz is a Miami criminal defense lawyer who is a Florida Board certified expert in criminal trial law. He has many years of experience representing hundreds of cases involving persons charged with drug trafficking offenses. If you or someone you know is accused of a drug-related charge and facing incarceration and the loss of personal assets by forfeiture, whether in federal or state court, call Swartz Law Firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced, board certified criminal trial attorney.