Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties

Federal drug trafficking is defined as selling, transporting, or illegally importing illegal narcotics—including heroin, cocaine, cannabis, or other controlled substances—across state lines and foreign borders. The penalties for this federal drug crime are extremely serious and punished more harshly than a state drug trafficking charge. 

The following is an overview of the federal drug trafficking penalties based on the type of drug. 

Heroin (Schedule I) 

A first offense for trafficking 100 to 999 grams of heroin mixture carries a prison sentence between five and 40 years, as well as a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison term ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment between 10 years and a life sentence, as well as a fine of up to $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking one kilogram or more of heroin mixture carries a prison term ranging from ten years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison sentence ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by a prison sentence between 20 years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $8 million (if an individual) and $20 (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

If a defendant has two or more prior offenses for federal drug trafficking, a conviction carries life imprisonment. 

LSD (Schedule I) 

A first offense for trafficking one gram and nine grams of LSD mixture carries a prison sentence between five and 40 years, as well as a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison term ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment between 10 years and a life sentence, as well as a fine of up to $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking 10 grams or more of LSD mixture carries a prison term ranging from ten years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison sentence ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by a prison sentence between 20 years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $8 million (if an individual) and $20 (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

If a defendant has two or more prior offenses for federal drug trafficking, a conviction carries life imprisonment. 

Fentanyl Analogue (Schedule I) 

A first offense for trafficking 10 to 99 grams of fentanyl analogue mixture carries a prison sentence between five and 40 years, as well as a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison term ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment between 10 years and a life sentence, as well as a fine of up to $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking 100 grams or more of fentanyl analogue mixture carries a prison term ranging from ten years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison sentence ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by a prison sentence between 20 years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $8 million (if an individual) and $20 (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

If a defendant has two or more prior offenses for federal drug trafficking, a conviction carries life imprisonment. 

Fentanyl (Schedule II) 

A first offense for trafficking 40 to 399 grams of fentanyl mixture carries a prison sentence between five and 40 years, as well as a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison term ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment between 10 years and a life sentence, as well as a fine of up to $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking 400 grams or more of fentanyl mixture carries a prison term ranging from ten years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison sentence ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by a prison sentence between 20 years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $8 million (if an individual) and $20 (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

If a defendant has two or more prior offenses for federal drug trafficking, a conviction carries life imprisonment. 

Cocaine (Schedule II) 

A first offense for trafficking 400 and 4,999 grams of cocaine mixture carries a prison sentence between five and 40 years, as well as a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison term ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment between 10 years and a life sentence, as well as a fine of up to $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking five kilograms or more of cocaine mixture carries a prison term ranging from ten years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison sentence ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by a prison sentence between 20 years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $8 million (if an individual) and $20 (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

If a defendant has two or more prior offenses for federal drug trafficking, a conviction carries life imprisonment. 

Cocaine Base (Schedule II) 

A first offense for trafficking five to 49 grams of cocaine base mixture carries a prison sentence between five and 40 years, as well as a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison term ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment between 10 years and a life sentence, as well as a fine of up to $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking 50 grams or more of cocaine base mixture carries a prison term ranging from ten years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison sentence ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by a prison sentence between 20 years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $8 million (if an individual) and $20 (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

If a defendant has two or more prior offenses for federal drug trafficking, a conviction carries life imprisonment. 

Methamphetamine (Schedule II) 

A first offense for trafficking 5 to 49 grams of pure methamphetamine, or between 50 and 499 grams of meth mixture carries a prison sentence between five and 40 years, as well as a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison term ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment between 10 years and a life sentence, as well as a fine of up to $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine, or 500 grams or more of meth mixture carries a prison term ranging from ten years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved during the commission of the offense, then the prison sentence ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by a prison sentence between 20 years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $8 million (if an individual) and $20 (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

If a defendant has two or more prior offenses for federal drug trafficking, a conviction carries life imprisonment. 

Other Schedule I & II Drugs 

A first offense for trafficking any other Schedule I or II drug is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years and a maximum fine of $1 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved in the offense, the prison term ranges from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

A second offense carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a fine of up to $2 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is life imprisonment. 

Marijuana 

A first offense for trafficking less than 50 kilograms of cannabis or between one and 49 plants carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a maximum fine of $250,000 (if an individual) or $1 million (if not an individual). 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and a maximum fine of $500,000 (if an individual) or $2 million (if not an individual). 

A first offense for trafficking 50 to 99 kilograms of cannabis or between 50 to 99 plants carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved in the offense, the prison sentence ranges from 20 years and life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment for up to 30 years and a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual. If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is mandatory life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking 100 to 999 kilograms of cannabis or between 100 to 999 plants carries a prison term ranging from five to 40 years and a maximum fine of $2 million (if an individual) or $5 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved in the offense, the prison sentence ranges from 20 years and life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment ranging from 10 years to a life sentence and a maximum fine of $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is mandatory life imprisonment. 

A first offense for trafficking 1,000 kilograms or more of cannabis, or 1,000 or more plants carries a prison sentence between 10 years and life imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $4 million (if an individual) or $10 million (if not an individual). If a death or serious injury was involved in the offense, the prison sentence ranges from 20 years and life imprisonment. 

A second offense for trafficking the same amount is punishable by imprisonment ranging from 20 years and a life sentence, as well as a maximum fine of $8 million (if an individual) or $20 million (if not an individual). If the offense involved a death or serious injury, the minimum sentence is mandatory life imprisonment. 

If you have been accused of federal drug trafficking in Massachusetts, New York, or New Hampshire, call Brad Bailey Law at (617) 500-0252 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Attorney Bailey is a former federal prosecutor with more than 50 years of trial-tested experience! 

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