Drug Trafficking


Drug Trafficking: Minimum Mandatory Sentencing (FS 893.135)

When you think of the criminal charge “Trafficking in Illegal Drugs” you probably picture a scene out of “Scarface” — Tony and his associates travelling to Bolivia and Columbia, arranging to import massive amounts of cocaine. Maybe you picture “American Gangster” with Frank Lucas importing heroin from Southeast Asia and distributing it on the streets of New York. This is how “trafficking” is portrayed in Hollywood, but that isn’t how it is prosecuted in Florida.

Over the past several years, the Florida Legislature has passed laws raising the potential punishment for a person convicted of trafficking, while simultaneously lowering the amount of illegal substance it takes to allow prosecution for trafficking.  

Why does the designation of “trafficking” matter? Harsh “minimum-mandatory” sentencing, which requires the judge to impose a particular sentence if a person is convicted of the charge applied to trafficking cases. Further, the law requiring the Department of Corrections to not authorize any gain time has also passed the Legislature, meaning that offenders typically must serve 100 percent of the mandatory sentence.  

Trafficking statutes also do not require the individual charged to possess the amount with any intent to sell or distribute. In fact, you can be charged with trafficking in an illegal substance if you knowingly sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver or bring into the state, or if you are knowingly in actual or constructive possession of a trafficking amount of an illegal substance.  

The amount of marijuana required to qualify for a “trafficking” charge is not very surprising, however the sentencing is surprising (a minimum of 3 years). To be charged with trafficking in marijuana, an individual must have in “excess of 25 pounds” or “300 or more cannabis plants” However, the amounts required to reach “trafficking” in some other categories might surprise you.

Here are the amounts required under the 2015 version of the law:

Cannabis Trafficking:

  • Excess of 25 lbs (includes seeds/stems), or 300 or more cannabis plants is trafficking in cannabis.
  • Over 25 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds, or over 300 plants but less than 2,000 plants: 3 years min/man, $25,000 fine
  • 2,000 pounds – 10,000 pounds, or 2,000 plants – 10,000 plants: 7 years min/man, $50,000 fine
  • 10,000 pounds, or 10,000 plants: 15 years min/man, $200,000 fine

Note:

  • 2,000 pounds equals 1 ton.
  • An average female elephant weighs 4,000 kilograms, or 8,800 pounds, so 10,000 pounds of marijuana is more than an elephant weighs.

Cocaine Trafficking:

  • 28 grams or more (or any mixture containing cocaine) but less than 150 kilograms is trafficking in cocaine.
  • 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams: 3 years min/man, $50,000 fine
  • 200 grams-400 grams: 7 years, $100,000 fine
  • 400 grams-150 kilograms: 15 years, $250,000 fine  
  • Over 150 kilograms = MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCE!

Note:

  • 28 grams = 0.9 ounces
  • 200 grams = 7.04 ounces
  • 400 grams = 14.08 ounces
  • 150 kilograms = approximately 330.7 pounds
  • A regular size bag of dried beans is 14 ounces.

Prescription & Illegal Drug Trafficking:

Oxycodone, Morphine, Opium, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, or any derivative of, including Heroin:

  • 4 grams or more is considered trafficking in illegal drugs (weight includes pill fillers)
  • 4 grams or more but less than 14 grams: 3 years min/man, $50,000 fine
  • 14 grams but less than 28 grams: 15 years, 100,000 fine
  • 28 grams to 30 kilograms: 25 years, $500,000 fine
  • 30 kilograms or more = LIFE IMPRISONMENT

Note:

  • 4 grams = 0.14 ounces
  • 14 grams = 0.49 ounces
  • 28 grams = 0.99 ounces
  • 30 kilograms = 66 pounds

PILLS = ENTIRE WEIGHT, NOT JUST ACTIVE INGREDIENT

  • 30 pills = One month prescription for Oxycodone

Each pill has fillers, binders, etc., in addition to 10 mg of the active ingredient, codeine. That would be 300 mg of codeine total for the entire bottle.

  • 1000 mg = 1 gram; 4 grams is considered trafficking, so we are less than one-third of 1 gram of actual oxycodone. But it is total pill weight, not active ingredient.

Amphetamine & Methamphetamine Trafficking:

  • 14 grams or more but less than 28 grams: 3 years, $50,000 fine
  • 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams: 7 years
  • 200 grams or more: 15 years, $250,000 fine

All of the above information can be complicated, but not nearly as complicated as a basic trafficking case. If you think you may be charged with trafficking or have questions about a case of a family member or friend, contact one of our attorneys immediately. The consultation is free in most cases.