What Constitutes as Drug Trafficking?

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Drug Trafficking in Arizona 

Anyone in Arizona that finds themselves being charged with drug trafficking or transporting illegal drugs can face incredibly harsh consequences. In an effort for law enforcement to combat illicit drug transporting, selling, and possessing in the state, Arizona has established strict laws with severe penalties making transporting illegal drugs a priority for federal and state agencies.

In an effort for law enforcement to combat illicit drug transporting, selling, and possessing in the state, Arizona has established strict laws with severe penalties

If you have been accused or charged with the transportation of illegal drugs, it is critical that you speak with drug crimes attorney Michael Alarid III before speaking to anyone else. It can make a difference between facing prison and freedom.

What Constitutes as Drug Trafficking?

According to Arizona Revised Statutes ARS 13-3405, ARS 13-3407, and ARS 13-3408, drug trafficking is transporting illegal substances, whether or not you cross state borders, with the intent to sell. No matter what you call them: dangerous drugs, narcotics, prescription-only drugs, psychedelic drugs, hallucinogens, or others, they are considered illegal drugs.

Some commonly known illegal drugs are:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy

Common Prescription-only drugs:

  • Oxycodone,
  • Hydrocodone
  • Xanax
  • Soma
  • Morphine
  • Methadone

Names of Common Dangerous Drugs:

  • Fentanyl
  • Flakka
  • Molly
  • Ketamine
  • LSD
  • Acid

To be charged with the crime of smuggling drugs or the possession of illegal drugs with the intent to distribute the following must be true:

You must have...

  • ...control over the drugs.
  • ...knowledge of the drugs' presence.
  • ...the drug is illegal, dangerous, a narcotic, or a prescription-only drug.
  • ...possession of the drugs for the purpose of sale.

However, if you take away the final element, "possession of the drug for the purpose of sale," the charges are dropped to mere possession.


Factors that Determine Sentencing

Sentences for smuggling drugs usually range from probation to 3 to 5 years in prison or more, depending on other factors:

  • The amount of drugs in possession
  • The type of drugs and classification
  • The geographical distribution area
  • Whether this was your first or a repeat offense
  • Prior drug transporting charges
  • If minors were involved
  • and more.

Arizona Drug Transporting Laws

While trafficking drugs is generally specific to transporting an illegal substance with the intent to distribute, you can also be convicted just for being caught with a certain amount of drugs in your possession. In fact, in the state of Arizona, you don't have to transport illegal substances across the border, or buy, sell, or manufacture them to get cited with trafficking. However, the prosecutor has to prove that you knew the drugs were in your possession.

In the state of Arizona, you don't have to transport illegal substances across the border, or buy, sell, or manufacture them to get cited with trafficking

Charged with Drug Transportation in Arizona?

Because Arizona is like a gateway for the transportation of illegal drugs, the state has set strict laws and harsh penalties for drug transportation. If you were charged with transporting drugs in Arizona, you need to contact an experienced drug crimes attorney immediately since these types of cases will require a lot of work to defend your rights and reduce your penalties, or even get your case dismissed.

The Law Office of Michael Alarid, III is based in Arizona and focuses explicitly on Criminal Defense such as serious drug crimes. Call us at (602) 818-3110 for a free consultation or fill out our online form.

Potential Penalties for Trafficking

Trafficking illegal drugs in Arizona is anywhere from a class 6 felony to a class 2. In addition, if convicted, you won't be eligible for any Proposition 200 diversion programs in Arizona.

Selling cocaine is generally a class 3 felony, which carries a fine of $1,000 or three times the drug's value, whichever is greater. 

The penalty is determined by the type of drugs and quantity involved. For example, selling cocaine is generally a class 3 felony, which carries a fine of $1,000 or three times the drug's value, whichever is greater. The felony is raised to a class 2 if you were selling to a minor, and if you don't have prior convictions, you could be sentenced to 12.5 years in prison. Also, if the deal took place in a drug-free/school zone, another year of jail time is added.

Some Drugs Have Worse Penalties Than Others

The battle to combat methamphetamines in the state of Arizona has been a struggle for lawmakers and law enforcement. That is why penalties for the transport of meth are more severe than for other illegal drugs. If your charges involve meth, you won't be eligible for parole, probation, or a suspended sentence.

Charges for distribution or possession are usually coupled with drug transportation or trafficking and carry further penalties, which are added to your final sentence.

Different Drug Types and Quantities in Trafficking Cases Count

The Drug Enforcement Administration set federal penalties for trafficking drugs designated as schedules I threw V. The penalty for a first offense of the following results in 5 to 40 years in prison:

  • Cocaine - from 500 to 4,999 grams
  • Crack cocaine - from 28 to 279 grams
  • Fentanyl - from 40 to 399 grams
  • Fentanyl analog - from 10 to 99 grams
  • Heroin - from 100 to 999 grams
  • LSD - from 1 to 99 grams
  • Methamphetamine - from 5 to 49 grams
  • Mixed amphetamine - from 50 to 499 grams
  • Pure PCP - from 10 to 99 grams
  • Mixed PCP - from 100 to 999 grams

If serious injury or death results from trafficking the quantities of the above-specified drugs, prison time is 20 years to life, and fines are up to $5 million.

For a second offense, the individual faces 10 years to life in prison. If a bodily injury occurred, the prison term is a mandatory life sentence with a maximum fine of $8 million.

Trafficking higher quantities of the listed drugs results in a 10 years to a life sentence in prison for the first offense with fines up to $10 million. In the case that bodily injury was involved, the individual is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. For a second offense of higher quantities, the individual faces 20 years to life in prison, and if bodily injury or death occurred, fines of up to a staggering $20 million.

The second offense for higher amounts of these drugs carries a prison sentence of 20 years to life, with a mandatory life sentence for death or bodily injury and fines of up to $20 million.


First Offense of Drug Possession with the Intent to Distribute

Under Arizona law, there are severe consequences for trafficking, even if it is a first-time offense. Prior felonies or convictions of drug sales can increase the penalties.

Trafficking of dangerous drugs, marijuana, or narcotics are class 2 felonies with the minimum and maximum penalties of probation and 3 to 12.5 years in prison.

Arizona Statutory Threshold Amounts

If an individual is caught with an amount of drugs that goes over the Arizona statutory threshold ARS 13-3401(36), he or she will be charged with possession with intent to sell and not be eligible for probation and will have to serve prison time.

These amounts are:

  • LSD –.5 milliliter or 50 dosage units
  • Crack Cocaine–750 milligrams
  • Heroin–1 gram
  • PCP –4 grams
  • Methamphetamine–9 grams
  • Cocaine–9 grams
  • Amphetamine–9 grams
  • Marijuana–2 pounds

Defenses Used Against Trafficking of Drugs Cases

While drug transporting is a serious charge in the state of Arizona, there are some defense tactics that can be used successfully to reduce penalties or even dismiss the case altogether.

1. Lack of Knowledge

To be convicted of drug transporting charges, you must first be aware of the drugs in your possession. This is according to Arizona Statutes 13-3405: "A person shall not knowingly possess...". This is one of the most common defenses used by attorneys to get a case dismissed.

2. Illegal Search and Seizure

Not only does the US Constitutions' fourth Amendment protect you from illegal search and seizure, but the state laws of Arizona also protect against this, which is stated in ARS 13-3925.

Police officers will often violate these laws on assumptions and search to find evidence of drugs or paraphernalia. However, most people don't know their rights and will be convicted based on the evidence found, but a drug crimes attorney knows better and may have the case thrown out of court if an illegal search was done.

3. Lack of Probable Cause

Arizona Revised Statutes §13-3883 states a police officer must have probable cause to make an arrest. This means that an officer must have reason to believe an individual has broken the law and engaged in some sort of crime to make an arrest. This is one of the first lines of defense that an attorney might use to support your case.

4. Challenging Indicia of Sale

A prosecutor must prove the drugs found were for sale and not possessed for personal consumption. A highly experienced drug crimes attorney such as Michael Alarid III may challenge the obtained indicia of sale evidence in your defense to reduce your charges from trafficking to mere possession.

5. Contesting Physical Evidence Findings

In most drug cases, the primary evidence is the drugs. Your attorney may challenge the methods and equipment used for weighing the drugs.

6. Examining Other Constitutional Violations

An attorney knows your constitutional rights and may address them in your defense since many drug cases may involve things like due process violations, denying the right to counsel, Miranda violations, and more.


The Law Office of Michael Alarid III PLLC

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The Law Office of Michael Alarid, III focuses on serious crimes, criminal defense, and DUI defense. We are experienced, professional, and very knowledgeable in every angle of defense in drug and criminal cases.

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