Drug trafficking refers to the practice of bringing illegal drugs across the national border or across state borders, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other illicit substances. Sentences for drug trafficking offenses typically range from three to five years in prison, depending on the type and amount of drugs involved, the geographic area of distribution, and whether children were involved.

Arizona’s Drug Laws

In Arizona, drug possession is a serious crime. Read more about the legal consequences of marijuana possession in Arizona.

While drug trafficking specifically refers to traveling across the border carrying an illegal substance with intent to distribute, you can be convicted with trafficking if you’re caught with the specified amounts of these drugs. This is true even if you did not manufacture, buy, sell, or transport the illicit substances. However, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly have the drugs in your possession.

What are the Penalties for Drug Trafficking?

The federal penalties for drugs that are designated as schedules I, II, III, IV, and V by the Drug Enforcement Administration are as follows: Trafficking between 500 and 4,999 grams of cocaine, 28 to 279 grams of crack cocaine, 40 to 399 grams fentanyl or 10 to 99 grams fentanyl analogue, 100 to 999 grams of heroin, 1 to 99 grams of LSD, 5 to 49 grams of pure methamphetamine, 50 to 499 grams of mixed amphetamine, 10 to 99 grams of pure PCP, or 100 to 999 grams mixed PCP results in a penalty of between five and 40 years in prison for the first offense.

If death or serious injury occurs as a result of the trafficking, the prison term ranges from 20 years to life. In addition to prison time, fines are up to $5 million for an individual. For a second offense, prison time ranges from 10 years to life, with a mandatory life sentence if death or bodily injury has occurred. The maximum second offense fine is $8 million.

Trafficking higher amounts of the drugs listed above results in a prison sentence from 10 years to life for the first offense (20 years to life if death or bodily injury has occurred), with a fine of up to $10 million. The second offense for higher amounts of these drugs carries a prison sentence of 20 years to life, with mandatory life sentence for death or bodily injury and fines of up to $20 million. A third offense for these quantities carries mandatory life imprisonment and fines of up to $20 million.

Federal Penalties for Marijuana Trafficking

Possession of more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana or more than 1,000 plants results in a prison sentence between 10 years and life and a fine of up to $10 million for the first offense, and a minimum sentence of 20 years and a fine of up to $20 million for the second offense. Trafficking of between 100 and 999 kilograms of marijuana or plants carries a prison sentence of 5 to 40 years and a fine of up to $5 million for a first offense, and 10 years to life and a fine of up to $8 million for subsequent offenses.

Trafficking of between 50 to 99 kilograms of marijuana or plants carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison with a fine of up to $1 million for the first offense, and up to 30 years in prison and fine of up to $2 million for subsequent offenses.

In addition to these federal guidelines, each state has its own drug trafficking laws. In Arizona, possession of marijuana whether for sale, or personal use is a felony. Depending on the user’s intent, the felony will be more severe. However, while amounts and penalties may vary, most states adhere closely to the guidelines set out by the DEA when developing their own laws.

It’s Possible to Have Your Drug Trafficking Penalties Reduced

The penalties for drug trafficking are severe, but it is possible to have your penalties reduced given the right circumstances. In prior drug trafficking cases, our lawyers have had success in reducing the impact our of client’s cases.

Drug Trafficking Case Result Examples

We’ve helped clients in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona facing all types of drug charges. Here’s an example of a recent drug case that had a positive outcome.

Court: Yavapai County Superior Court

Charges: one count transporting narcotic drugs for sale, one count possession of a deadly weapon, one count possession of narcotic drugs, one count DUI, one count driving on a suspended license, & one count using a stolen or fictitious plate

Our Result: charges reduced to attempted sale of narcotic drug, possession of drug paraphernalia and DUI, 150 days in jail, & six years probation and fines

To see how we’ve helped clients facing other charges, check out our recent case results.

Get Help with a Drug Trafficking Charge in Arizona

If you’re facing drug trafficking or other related drug charges in Arizona, then your life depends on the outcome of your criminal case.

With a public defender or sub-par attorney, you risk incurring penalties that can significantly and negatively impact your life. With the help of an experienced and dedicated attorney, however, you have the opportunity to lessen your penalties and the impact your case has on your future.

At JacksonWhite, we offer that dedication and expertise. Our Mesa criminal lawyers have helped thousands of clients in the Phoenix metro area, and we can help you next.

We invite you to call for your free case review. We’ll discuss your options and help you decide which legal option is best for you moving forward.


Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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