Navigating Complexities in Federal Drug Trafficking Cases

Navigating Complexities in Federal Drug Trafficking Cases

Federal drug trafficking is much more serious than simple possession, which is usually prosecuted at the state level. The manufacture, sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute the drugs across state lines moves it to the federal level, with increased consequences. This includes any controlled substances, both prescription drugs and illegal ones like marijuana (which is still illegal both in Florida and at the federal level), opioids (including fentanyl), cocaine, and methamphetamines. Sometimes a person can be charged at both state and federal levels.

federal drug trafficking case in west palm beach Florida

Because federal penalties are much more severe than anything at the state level, it’s important to understand the difference and work with a criminal defense attorney who can defend you.

Difference Between Federal and State

Simple possession of something for personal use will likely be charged at the state level. Possession of an amount that exceeds personal use, or manufacturing of the drug, can lead to federal charges of intent to distribute. Crossing a state line with a larger amount of a drug can lead to federal drug trafficking and intent to distribute.

The severity of the charges is determined according to the DEA’s schedule:

  • Schedule I—includes the most dangerous drugs: heroin, ecstasy, LSD, and synthetic cathinone, known as “bath salts.” These drugs have no medical use, a high potential for abuse, and lead to serious health problems. Marijuana is also a Schedule I drug despite legalization in many states.
  • Schedule II—methamphetamines, which have some medical use but a high potential for abuse
  • Schedule III—includes depressants such as anabolic steroids, ketamine, Vicodin, and some appetite depressants. Approved medical use but a high potential for abuse.
  • Schedule IV—these have a lower potential for abuse or dependence, such as Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and Darvocet.
  • Schedule V—these are the lowest-ranking drugs, such as antidiarrheal drugs and cough syrups with a moderate amount of codeine.

The higher the schedule, the more severe the penalties.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Long-term incarceration and even life in prison are both strong possibilities for federal drug trafficking. Conviction of any one of these will mean a minimum sentence of five years in a federal prison:

  • 5 g or more of pure methamphetamines, including 50 grams of a mixture of meth
  • 1 g or more of LSD
  • 10 g or more of pure PCP
  • 28 g or more of crack
  • 100 g or more of heroin
  • 100 kg or more of marijuana or
  • 500 g or more of cocaine

Larger amounts for a first conviction for any of these will come with a minimum 10-year sentence:

  • 50 g or more of pure methamphetamines, including 500 grams of a mixture of meth
  • 1 kg or more of heroin
  • 5 kg or more of cocaine
  • 10 g or more of LSD
  • 100 g or more of pure PCP
  • 280 g or more of crack
  • 1000 kg or more of marijuana

A second conviction will bring a 20-year sentence, and a third conviction will bring a life sentence. If you’ve been arrested and charged with federal drug trafficking, it’s vital to have a criminal defense team who will investigate your arrest and build the strongest case possible.


If you have been arrested on federal drug trafficking charges in the West Palm Beach area, consider criminal defense attorneys Adam R. Farkas and Jacqueline D. Crowley. They have the background and experience to provide you with a robust defense.

We offer aggressive criminal defense when you are facing serious charges and have successfully defended hundreds of drug trafficking cases. We are ready to put our expertise to work and help you with your case. Call us today at (561)-444-9529 or online to schedule your free consultation appointment.

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